Commentary

It’s past time to halt program that subsidizes discrimination against LGBT North Carolinians

School vouchersA few weeks back, Chris Fitzsimon was the first commentator in the state to call attention to the fact that North Carolina’s badly misnamed “Opportunity Scholarship” (i.e. school vouchers) program is funneling public money to private religious schools that discriminate against LGBT children and/or kids whose parents are LGBT. Happily, since that time, mainstream news media outlets have begun to report on this ridiculous situation as well and, in recent days, to issue their own scathing editorials.

Yesterday, the Charlotte Observer put it this way in an editorial entitled “Private schools where LGBT students need not apply”:

“Here’s a quick lesson in Government Fairness 101:

Ready?

Don’t tax people for a government service, then tell them they can’t have the service. If you’re trying to imagine the most infuriating thing a government official could ever say to you, try this one on for size:

‘Your family’s money is welcome here, but your kids aren’t.’

Isn’t that what the North Carolina legislature and private religious schools are saying to gay, lesbian and transgender children’s families?”

And this morning, Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting Company weighed in with an editorial entitled “More Jones Street madness: ‘Opportunity (for the right kids) Scholarships'”:

“The Constitution and its Bill of Rights give us freedoms to practice our faith as we see fit. But, it does not give government license to use taxpayer dollars to support and promote certain religious practices.

State Rep. Paul ‘Skip’ Stam, a Republican from Wake County, sees the scholarship issue as one between students, the students’ parents and the schools. The rest of the state’s taxpayers, who actually provide the money for the program, are irrelevant. There are plenty of private schools that don’t discriminate, he contends….

Rep. Stam may think this is about a relationship between students, parents and schools. He is misguided. He leaves out the most significant partner – the taxpayers.

It is just plain wrong. Taxpayer dollars should not support discrimination. Schools receiving state voucher funds should show they do not discriminate in their admissions policies.

If schools choose to discriminate, that’s their business. Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill.”

Especially now that Stam is retiring from the General Assembly, let’s hope his soon-to-be-former colleagues wake up to the absurdity of this hateful discrimination and take action ASAP to end it. And while they’re at it, perhaps they can also stop these same schools from using public money to teach children that humans and dinosaurs once walked the earth together and that the KKK wasn’t all that bad.

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