Due to an “expose” of sorts by the Orlando Sentinel, a public scholarship fund that seeks private donations is under attack because some of those funds are used by parents to send their children to Christian schools. The ambiguous headline reads “Anti-LGBT Florida schools getting school vouchers.”
The tax credit program run by Step Up For Students (Step Up), invites corporate donors to contribute amounts up to their state income tax liability in any given year to the scholarship fund in exchange for receiving dollar-for-dollar tax credits. The program last year assisted more than 100,000 children, approximately 70% of whom are black, Hispanic or multiracial. Children receiving a poor education in the public schools can apply for scholarships to attend private schools, including private religious ones. Over the last 19 years, the program has provided nearly 900,000 scholarships, helping 144,000 students, to the tune of nearly $1 billion.
You may think that such a program should be lauded for its success, but the Sentinel took the opposite approach.
The newspaper reviewed documents and websites of over 1,000 private religious schools receiving funds via those scholarships, and found that 156 have policies that require students, and in some cases their parents, to live by and uphold biblical sexual ethics.
Next, the Sentinel contacted several of the fund’s corporate donors that also support LGBT causes and inquired as to why they were donating to a program that funded “anti-LGBT” schools. In response, two major banks, Wells Fargo and Fifth Third, suddenly announced they will stop giving to the program. Last year the two banks reported a combined $5.4 million in donations to Step Up. Interestingly, both banks received a 100% approval rating in the 2020 Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, and scored equally high in previous years. The index rates workplaces on “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality.”
It wasn’t hard to predict what the Sentinel’s “inquiry” and news story would provoke within the media departments at both banks. It didn’t take them long to distance themselves from helping the poor and underprivileged in need of a good education. Especially when their 100% HRC rating was at stake.
Fifth Third responded via Twitter, “We definitely stand with #LGBTQ students and parents. We have communicated with program officials that we will not be contributing again until more inclusive policies have been adopted by all participating schools to protect the sexual orientation of all our students.”
John Stemberger, President of the Florida Family Council, a public policy organization affiliated with Focus on the Family, told The Daily Citizen in an email, “These banks’ decisions are punishing minority students from getting the best education possible,” he said. “They are not helping children but hurting them with their political activism.”
Why does the Left always suggest that it’s quite simple for Christian institutions to re-write the Bible when it comes to how God made them male and female and then explained how marriage and sex works?
There is good news to report, however. After the Sentinel’s story broke a couple weeks ago, another corporate donor, Breakthru Beverage of Florida, decided to contribute $35 million to the Step Up scholarship fund.
Apparently Breakthru Beverage is not concerned about its HRC score. And neither should they be. Good for them.