Senator tries again to withhold Indiana vouchers over gay firings by schools

A proposal aimed at preventing private schools that discriminate against gay employees and students from receiving Indiana voucher program money is being backed by the state’s superintendent of public instruction.

The bill filed Friday by Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, comes after protests over the firings of gay staff members at two Catholic high schools in Indianapolis because they were in same-sex marriages. The proposal would prohibit private school voucher money from going to schools that discriminate over factors including sexual orientation, disability, race, gender or religion.

Ford and state superintendent Jennifer McCormick, a Republican, say taxpayer money shouldn’t support schools that don’t treat all students and employees equally. The voucher program distributed about $161 million for about 36,000 students attending private schools during 2018-2019, according to a state Department of Education report.

It is unlikely that the bill will advance in the Republican-dominated Legislature during this year’s session, as Ford’s bill in 2019 wasn’t considered by a Senate committee and House Republicans voted down a similar proposal as well.

Voucher program advocates maintain that the state money isn’t awarded to schools, but to families who choose the best school for their children.

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