Bible Baptist Christian School in Matthews is one of 336 religious schools and private academies that receive taxpayer funding under the voucher program created by the General Assembly in 2013 and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.
The school collected more than $100,000 in public support for the 2015-2016 school year to pay for the education of 26 students who signed up for a voucher.
But not all taxpayers have access to the school. Gay students and students with gay parents are banned from attending Bible Baptist Christian School even though their tax dollars support it.
That’s not an unwritten policy quietly enforced by the admissions office. It is quite explicit that gay students and students with gay parents are not welcome.
Page 76 of the student handbook of the school includes a “Homosexual Conduct Policy” that makes it clear.
“The school reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a current student. This includes, but is not limited to, living in, condoning, or supporting any form of sexual immorality; practicing or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity;”
The handbook lists Bible verses as references for its policies. One of the verses cited to support the anti-LGBT provision is Leviticus 20:13, that reads: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”
That’s what all North Carolinians, including LGBT residents, are currently paying for with their taxes, schools that justify discriminating against gay students and parents with a Bible verse saying that gay couples should be put to death because of their “bloodguiltiness.”
And Bible Baptist Christian School is hardly alone. The vast majority of private schools funded through the voucher program are religious schools, and most of them have fundamentalist outlooks similar to Bible Baptist Christian.
Most of these schools also use textbooks from the A-Beka Book publisher and Bob Jones University Press.
The books teach students all sorts of bizarre theories, including that dinosaurs and humans co-existed on Earth, that slaves were treated well, that the KKK helped fight a decline in morality and that gay people have no more claims to “special rights” than child molesters or rapists.
There are no restrictions in the voucher law about curriculum. The private schools can teach students anything they want, no matter how ridiculous or offensive.
They have always been able to, but now thanks to the unaccountable voucher scheme, every North Carolinian is paying for it, paying to teach kids that gay people are like child molesters.
Most of the news stories about the voucher program focus generally on the debate about accountability and diverting money from the underfunded public school system. Sometimes the stories point out that vouchers schools are not required to run criminal background checks on teachers or administer the same standardized tests as public schools, so there is no way to compare the academic achievement of the students.
Very little of the mainstream media coverage includes specifics about what children at voucher schools are learning about dinosaurs or slaves or gay people. But it’s right there in plain view in the books and instructional materials and handbook policies.
Bible Baptist Christian School does have a non-discrimination policy. It is on page 12 of the handbook.
“BBCS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin in administration of its admissions policies, educational policies, and other school administered programs.”
But gay kids and gay parents? Discrimination is fine and you can use public money to do it, a lot of public money.
The budget passed by the General Assembly this summer increased funding for the voucher program to $24.8 million this year and calls for a $10 million increase every year after that for 10 years until taxpayers are spending $144.8 million to fund schools like Bible Baptist in Matthews.
That is a lot of public money paying for discrimination.
Chris Fitzsimon is executive director of N.C. Policy Watch.