In Pennsylvania, the proposed law regarding what kind of schools could benefit from tax credits said any beneficiaries couldn’t discriminate against employees on account of their “gender, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”
But after a group of Christian schools whined about how it was their religious right to discriminate against homosexuals, the governor has thrown out the non-discrimination clause, meaning that taxpayers will now be subsidizing private religious schools that refuse to hire LGBTQ employees.
The inclusion of “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” irked several religiously-affiliated private schools around the state. One school, Dayspring Christian Academy in Lancaster County, called the language a “direct violation of our Christian conscience,” and encouraged parents to contact their legislators.
Keep in mind these schools also don’t play by the same rules as other ones; they are under no obligation to give students standardized tests or publish the results if students take them. It’s one thing if they’re not receiving any help from the government, but Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is saying these private schools can get special treatment and selectively root out LGBTQ people in the hiring process.
Wolf would tell you a different version of the story. From his perspective, these non-discrimination guidelines were meant for state agencies and contractors. But earlier this year, when writing the rules for how the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) would work, the same language was accidentally inserted in there. The removal of the non-discrimination language is less an endorsement or acceptance of discrimination and more just correcting a mistake.
“This is really just a case of a simple administrative error,” said J.J. Abbott, spokesman for the Wolf administration. “[The Department of Community and Economic Development] has been working to update their programs to comply with the governor’s non-discrimination executive order, which applies to contracts and grants, not tax credits.”
Either way, the effect is the same. If a business donates money to an organization that gives scholarships to private schools (including religious ones), they can write it off on their state taxes. The EITC and OSTC tax credits are worth up to $250 million a year. And that gift from the taxpayers can now be used to punish LGBTQ people who seek jobs at these schools.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)