Republican lawmakers in West Virginia are considering a bill which would effectively funnel state money into anti-LGBT+ religious schools and encourage parents to send their children to such schools.
House Bill (HB) 2013 would extend the Hope Scholarship programme, which creates education savings accounts in the state for certain students.
The programme would be open to students who are currently enrolled in public school but are looking to switch to homeschooling or private schools. This would result in parents receiving about $4,600 annually that could be used for tuition and fees at a participating private school.
One local private institution, Grace Christian School, in Huntington, West Virginia, says on its enrolment application that the school objects to “any form of sexual immorality” including “homosexual conduct”, “bisexual conduct” or “any attempt to change one’s sex”.
On its mission statement, another, Cross Lanes Christian School, states: “Cross Lanes Christian School believes that the Bible prohibits sexual immorality of any type, including but not limited to pornography, homosexuality or any other sexual activity outside the marriage of one man and one woman.”
It also reserves the right to refuse students no the basis of “practising or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity”.
The bill states any participating school or education service provider would not be required to “alter its creed, practices, admission policy, hiring policy or curriculum in order to accept eligible recipients whose parents pay tuition or fees from a Hope Scholarship”.
This would mean that there would be no protections against schools providing anti-LGBT+ education or condemning LGBT+ discrimination.
The West Virginia branch of the ACLU has opposed the bill because it would “take money from public education and can result in public money being used for religious education” and discrimination.