Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell, a frequent critic of school vouchers, is urging companies to stop donating to Florida Tax Credit Scholarships for low-income students because some participating religious private schools have anti-LGBTQ statements on their web sites. In turn, the Sentinel has published two responses over the past four days.
The most recent one comes from an Orlando school that was singled out by Maxwell as having “a policy against letting gay students walk its halls.” Rev. Dr. Nino Gonzalez, pastor of Calvary City Church, which runs Calvary City Academy, noted that his school not only enrolls LGBTQ students but that it served a high-profile role in assisting victims and families in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016. He said discriminatory language that appeared in a “lifestyle” statement on the school’s web site was outdated and has been removed.
The other comes from Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students, which helps administer the scholarship (and publishes this blog). Tuthill criticizes Maxwell for pressuring companies to stop their donations, arguing that fewer donations only hurts the economically disadvantaged children who are helped by the program. He also reports that only a small fraction of the schools appear to have any discriminatory statements toward LGBTQ students in handbooks or web sites and that he has yet to encounter evidence of any LGBTQ student being denied admission or mistreated by a scholarship school.