A private Christian school in Savage, Maryland, has been removed from the state's voucher program for its anti-LGBTQ beliefs.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Bethel Christian Academy "filed suit in federal court last month saying the state is infringing on its First Amendment right to religious freedom by kicking it out of a program that pays tuition for low-income children to attend the school."
“The Supreme Court has been very clear that there is no place in our society for religious hostility,” said Christiana Holcomb, a member of the school’s legal counsel. "That is the crux of the issue of this case.” She said the state pushed Bethel out of the voucher program based “solely on the fact that Bethel has a particular religious belief around marriage.”
Now Bethel is pushing for a judge to order the state to put the school back in the voucher program.
Bethel Christian Academy is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom—and if that name rings a bell, it's because that same group represented Colorado baker Jack Phillips in his U.S. Supreme Court case, in which he argued his First Amendment rights would be violated if he were forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Alliance is also classified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The school was originally denied vouchers in 2018 when Maryland's education board read Bethel's school handbook which says that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and does not believe in transgender, writing that "God assigns a gender to a child at birth."
“Therefore, faculty, staff and student conduct is expected to align with this view," reads the handbook. “Faculty, staff and students are required to identify with, dress in accordance with, and use the facilities associated with their biological gender.”
But according to the school, there has not been a case of discrimination against a student because of their sexual orientation.
Bethel principal Claire Dant says that the school does not ask about a student's sexual orientation, nor is she aware of any LGBTQ students attending the school. “None that have been so visible that it has been an issue or that we were aware of them," she told The Sun, adding that if a student were gay, "it is invisible."
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