Georgia: Public Funds Support Scholarships at Antigay Private Schools

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com January 22 2013 5:02 PM ET

More than 100 private schools in Georgia that bar openly LGBT students are accept $170 million in state money each year while continuing to discriminate against students.

The schools receive a tax credit program that turn state funds into scholarships for religiously based private schools.The 115 schools, however, explicitly enforce policies that condemn homosexuality, often punishing students who come out by expelling them.

Steve Suitts, the vice president of the Southern Education Foundation, wrote a report for his organization, showing that at least one-third of the state's private schools that honor the scholarship have antigay policies. Furthermore, two of the seven organizations that provide accreditation to private schools also adhere to antigay policies.

For example, the 500-student Augusta Christian School states that "each student of the school shall be of the highest moral character and be obedient to all Biblical principles, including, but not limited to, prohibitions against fornication, drug use, alcohol use, pornography and homosexuality." The Cumberland Christian Academy stipulates that "Students shall not promote or participate in immorality such as pornography, adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex, or homosexuality."

The Cherokee Christian Schools in Woodstock, Georgia will punish students for even making the statement of being LGBT "or otherwise immoral." Providence Christian Academy will not only expel gay students, but also students who support or condone gay rights.

"[P]ublic funds should not support schools that exclude, condemn, and demonize students for who they are and who they accept in their lives," Suitts wrote. "Tax dollars should go to schools that educate all students. That is the promise and virtue of our democracy."