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Politico Morning Education reports that the Trump administration has joined a court case on the side of a Christian school in Maryland that was removed from the state’s voucher program because it discriminates against LGBT students and teachers.
This is not surprising. The DeVos family has funded anti-gay organizations and state referenda for many years. The Trump administration takes the view that if religious organizations discriminate, that is no one’s business, even though they are receiving public funds. Thus, DeVos and Trump carve an exemption in civil rights law. It is okay to discriminate against persons if your discrimination actions stem from sincere religious beliefs. Where will this end? Gay students and teachers today, black students and women tomorrow. The civil rights protections that have been a sturdy bulwark against bigotry since 1964 are being picked apart, one group at a time. The federal government has embarked on a religious campaign to eviscerate civil rights protections, and this campaign begins with the least numerous, least popular group: Gays. So long as a school sincerely believes that gay students and teachers are loathsome, the state and federal government will not stand in the way of their discriminatory acts.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BACKS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL’S LAWSUIT OVER VOUCHERS: The departments of Justice and Education on Tuesday sided with a private Christian school that’s fighting Maryland’s decision to kick it out of a state voucher program over its anti-LGBTQ views. The Trump administration filed a “statement of interest ” backing the federal lawsuit filed by Bethel Christian Academy, which accuses Maryland education officials of unconstitutionally discriminating against the school based on its religious beliefs.
— Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement that the Constitution protects religious schools from being forced “to choose between abandoning or betraying their faith and participating in public programs.”
— Robert S. Eitel, a top adviser to Secretary Betsy DeVos, said in a statement that “Americans do not give up their religious liberty protections simply because they may participate in a government program or interact with a state government.” He added that the Education Department “cannot sit on its hands as the First Amendment rights of Bethel Christian Academy are violated.”
— Maryland education officials have previously said they were trying to prevent taxpayer money from flowing to institutions that discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, which is prohibited under the rules of the voucher program.
— A main point of contention is whether the language in the school’s handbook that doesn’t accept same-sex marriage or opposes transgender people complies with the state’s nondiscrimination requirement. The school says it doesn’t consider sexual orientation in its admissions process.
— A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the lawsuit, which is being brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, could move forward. The judge ruled the school had presented a “plausible” case that the state had “unjustly conflated the school’s religious beliefs with discriminatory behavior.”