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Report: Kennesaw School That Bans Gays Receives State Dollars

Schools that "exclude, condemn, and demonize students for who they are and who they accept in their lives" should not receive public funds, according to a report from an Atlanta education policy group.

Some scholarship money generated through a Georgia tax credit program has been used at religious schools that ban gay, lesbian and bisexual students, according to a report released this month.

Two of the schools mentioned in the report from the Southern Education Foundation, an Atlanta education policy group, are in North Cobb.

At Shiloh Hills Christian School in Kennesaw, the standard of conduct policy is clear. A student who says “I am gay,” “I am a homosexual” or “I like boys” will be expelled.

"We are who we are," administrator John Ward said Tuesday afternoon. "We're very open about who we are. There's nothing secret about who we are and what we stand for."

And North Cobb Christian School in Acworth "reserves the right to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue the enrollment of a student if the conduct within the home or the conduct of the student is in opposition to the biblical lifestyle taught by the school," according to its website. "This includes sexual immorality, homosexual orientation or inability to support the moral principles of the school."

While North Cobb Christian officials did not respond to a request for comment, Shiloh Hills' Ward said his school has never had to expel or deny admission to students based on sexual orientation during its 33 years of operation.

The Southern Education Foundation does not take issue with the policies of schools such as Shiloh Hills and North Cobb Christian. They have a constitutional right to believe whatever they want to believe and to operate their private affairs in accordance with those beliefs, the foundation said.

But schools that "exclude, condemn, and demonize students for who they are and who they accept in their lives" should not receive public funds, the foundation wrote in its report. "Tax dollars should go to schools that educate all students. That is the promise and virtue of our democracy."

Ward disagrees with the first part of the foundation's assessment.

"To say that we have no right to that (money), we didn't set the law up," he said.

Legislators in 2008 established a tax credit program to allow individual and corporate taxpayers to contribute to qualified student scholarship organizations and receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Georgia income tax liabilities. SSOs provide the funds to private schools for all or part of a student’s tuition.

Faith First Georgia in Marietta operates the SSO that makes it possible for needy students to attend Shiloh Hills. Business manager Sandra L. Chicoine said that the organization would respond later this week to the Southern Education Foundation's report, which has made national news.

The report does not list how much each school has received since 2008, and Ward said he would "rather not give an amount.

"... This is just a great opportunity for underprivileged or needy families to get into a private school that has a quality education."

While the amounts awarded to each school are unknown, more than $170 million in taxpayer funds have been set aside to cover the tuition costs of students in private schools during the last four years.

And the Southern Education Foundation knows of at least 115 private schools in the tax credit scholarship program that have severe anti-gay policies or belong to state and national private school associations that promote anti-gay policies, according to the report.

"Altogether, as much as one-third of all private schools participating in Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program may be governed by the schools’ explicit anti-gay policies or their church’s anti-gay statements of faith," according to the report.

And that count, according to the report, is likely an understatement.

Click here to read the full report from the Southern Education Foundation. It is also attached to this article as a PDF.

Should public money be used to assist needy families who want to send their children to private schools with explicit anti-gay policies? Tell us in the comment box below.

Paul L. Dragu February 01, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Debra, I love that you've actually read Southern Education Foundation's original article. What you say doesn't surprise one bit. There's obviously a mass campaign to compare the homosexual "movement" to the Civil Rights movement and smear anyone not on board, which I think provides the litmus test of whether someone is actually intelligent or not. Last time I checked, unlike your sexual preference you could not hide your skin color. Also, I have never heard of a black man going back to white, or a white man experiencing with being black. I know I was accused of making a ridiculous analogy earlier, but I find it sad and funny that there is such a great portion of people who claim they can read and reason, who accept the ridiculous comparison of gay acceptance to the Civil Right movement.
Clayton Gibson February 01, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Dear Paul, Republicans. Nuff said. "I pay too much is taxes! God says gays are bad! Go get a job!" You're all the same. I have a job, I pay my taxes, I am tolerant of my fellow man, I am not gay. But how dare you say that being gay is a choice. You have proven yourself to be a traditional southern bigot like I said. LGBT rights are just as important as the civil rights movement. Brush up on your American history. "All men are created equal." You have no right judging anyone.
Paul L. Dragu February 02, 2013 at 12:34 AM
You're not gay. How do you know it's not a choice? And who said it was a choice? And if someone were to DARE say being gay is a choice, it's not as crazy as Chris Mathews would have you believe. Genome studies have found genes and studies that indicate that being gay is more a predisposition akin to an alcoholic's increased probability of being an alcoholic after X amount off drinking, as opposed to someone is not predisposed who can have the same amount of drinks and not become an alcoholic. And spare me the don't-judge-rhetoric. You just "judged" us as southern bigots because we happen to think being gay is morally wrong. You assumed just b/c of my stance on homosexuality that I think I pay too much taxes and I am against welfare.
R. Lee Bays February 02, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Don't worry, if your intellect/emotional gauge is one informed by a patriarchal society who worshiped a bronze age Hebrew war god that celebrated slavery, genocide, infanticide, etc. and that laid the groundwork for discrimination 2500 years later, then we will view what you say as ignorant and asinine.
R. Lee Bays February 02, 2013 at 03:57 PM
What are your tax dollars going to that you not want to support? Military? Public Health? Environmental Regulation? And how are you being discriminated against? Are you being told by the government that you can't marry the person you love? Equality is not a benefit.

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