Florida Governor Rick Scott has a plan to help bullied students escape the peers who are bullying them — as long as the student being bullied isn’t gay.
The anti-bullying program sounds like a big win at first glance, allowing students to receive up to $7,000 in vouchers so they can transfer to a private school.
“Every child in Florida should have the opportunity to get a great education at the school of their choice so they can achieve their dreams,” Scott said while signing the bill into law in March. Sadly, an analysis by The Huffington Post, has found a major discriminatory issue with the bill.
Under Florida’s Hope Scholarship Program, students can report instances of bullying and receive the money needed to attend a private institution. Sadly, many of the school’s who have signed onto the program don’t accept members of the LGBTQ community or punish student’s who are in a same-sex relationship.
HuffPost obtained copies of “student handbooks and mission statements” from schools participating in the program.
“As of Aug. 1, 2018, nearly 70 schools had signed up to participate in the program, although the organization granting the scholarships says it expects more schools to do so over the course of the next few months… Of these schools, at least 10 percent have zero-tolerance policies for LGBTQ students,” Rebecca Klein at HuffPo writes.
Some of the language used in the handbooks is direct: “Any action involving pornography or homosexuality.” Another handbook reads, “Homosexuality is likewise denounced and is called an abomination to God.”
It was also found that 30% of the nearly 70 schools supported “a curriculum that promotes bigoted views of LGBTQ students. These schools use curricula created by ultra-evangelical companies like Abeka, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education.”
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School Of Law reports an estimated 100,100 LGBT youth in the state and notes that “LGBT people in Florida lack important legal protections and face a less supportive social climate than LGBT people in many other states.”
The UCLA report also reports on statewide laws that “offer no protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations.”
Currently, Florida ranks at #25 among states that offer an inclusive support system for the LGBTQ community.
You can read the full report from HuffPost here.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.