2013 – The issue brief documents how Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program diverts state tax dollars to private schools, highlighting how as many as one in four of the private schools eligible to receive these tax funds in Georgia follow explicit anti-gay policies and practices. Many of the private schools participating in Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program were found to:
- Condemn homosexuality on religious grounds;
- Punish gay students by excluding them from admission and scholarships or expelling and disciplining them because they are gay;
- Use textbooks and curricula that are harshly anti-gay – some even comparing gays to rapists and murderers; and
- Expel or discipline students in some cases for simply tolerating homosexuality.
The state of Georgia supports these anti-gay schools with more than tax money: two of the seven private school associations that Georgia law recognizes to accredit these schools and validate them to receive diverted tax dollars have anti-gay policies or practices for their member schools.
This state program is the focus of a 2011 SEF report, A Failed Experiment: Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarships for Private Schools, uncovering a widespread failure to serve low-income students through the tax credit scholarships and a severe lack of accountability and transparency. That report was the result of a two-year student and called for “ending or vastly amending” the law.
Approximately $170 million in taxpayer money has been diverted through this program to unaccountable Student Scholarship Organizations and private schools. These tax dollars support private schools that exclude, penalize, and vilify students exclusively on the basis of who they are – whether they themselves are gay or simply express support for others who are.
SEF calls upon Georgia’s leaders to end – or vastly mend – this costly, failed experiment.