Wednesday, August 21, 2019
This op-ed by Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom details a current form of discrimination in Maryland. As noted in the op-ed:
If government says that you are free to believe in something, but not to act on it, you are not truly free. That reality lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed by the Bethel Christian Academy against the state of Maryland, which kicked the academy out of a private school voucher program for having policies consistent with the school’s religious values. Such unequal treatment is unacceptable.
Immediately at issue are the school’s policies requiring that students and staff behave in ways consistent with the idea of marriage being between a man and a woman, and an individual’s proper gender being the one assigned at birth. The state maintains that those policies are discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals and that allowing public money — school vouchers from the state’s BOOST program — to flow to Bethel Christian is unacceptable.
The state’s position is totally understandable: All people should be treated equally when government is involved. The problem is that the state government is not treating religious people equally – a problem in the public education system not just in Maryland, but in every state in the country.
Religious schools need the ability to act on their religious principles without being cut off from choice programs. More than 482,000 students across the country are exercising private school choice. As McCluskey points out, the Maryland policy now essentially says that educators and parents may pick a school consistent with their faith, but as a practical matter that faith must be dead.