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 Topic: DC tuition vouchers inimical to LGBTQ students

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Joined: 13 Oct 2003
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Interests: outdoors, drugs, politics, religion, sex.
Physical Location: SF eastbay, Calif

Posted: 13 Oct 2003, 2:32 pm    Post subject: DC tuition vouchers inimical to LGBTQ students Reply with quote

President Bush’s plan of 2,000 tuition vouchers for the neediest K-12 children trapped in failing public schools in Washington, DC to attend private or parochial schools has passed in the House of Representatives. The bill is now stalled in the US Senate. Dianne Feinstein, of all people, is a principal advocate. The bill does not protect sexual orientation from discrimination; it expressly allows discrimination for religious reasons. The Catholic school system in DC has empty classrooms; it is eager to accept voucher students. The Catholic Church is committed to an unholy crusade against gay civil rights. Of the entire DC education budget, vouchers will get one-third, charter schools will get one-third, and the public schools will get only what is left. What happens in DC will invariably follow in the country. No State will be able to refuse federally funded vouchers, called “tuition scholarships.” Public education will be the primary loser. Gay and lesbian school children will be left on the doorstep.

Call To Action
You can express your opposition to this dismantling of public education to California Senators Feinstein and Boxer, but your own senators first. Particularly effective is to ask your local school board representative if he or she is aware of this issue, and what are they doing about it. Write or phone your state representatives, especially the Education committee chairs in the state legislature. Contact organizations and groups committed to public education, safety in the schools, protection of ethnic, religious and sexual minority rights in education. Do not assume that they already know about it, and do not think that it is too late to stop the vouchers bill.

The goals are to protect public education from Senator Feinstein and President Bush’s voucher bill, and to protect lesbian, gay, transgender and questioning students from discrimination and oppression. Please refer to the analysis below. This is all public information, and you are free to make your talking points from it. For additional information please visit the National School Boards Association website “”. See also Americans United for the Separation of Church and State “”

K-12 Tuition Vouchers
On September 9, 2003, the US House of Representatives voted by the narrowest majority to start a program of federally-funded tuition vouchers for District of Columbia public school students K through 12 to attend whatever private or parochial school in DC that will accept them. This a 5-year pilot program. Continuance of the federal funding after that will depend on the program results.

A draconian remedy
The vouchers constitute only one-third of the FY 2004 DC School Budget. Funding for charter schools gets another third, and a third goes to the public schools. Fully two-thirds of the entire money package for public education in Washington will be spent outside the public school system.

Popular support is lacking
Senate debate on the bill has been halted temporarily. Democrats are concerned that this ground-breaking bill has little popular support. Majorities on the elected DC Board of Education and the DC City Council oppose it. DC’s shadow Senator opposes it. A majority of the US House of Representatives would have opposed it but for the cowardice of Dick Gephardt and a few other Democrats (in collusion with an accommodating Republican leadership) who fear Catholic backlash in their districts: Gephardt and the others were conveniently off at some presidential debate when the all-important vote was taken, and vouchers won in the House by 209 to 208! Tuition vouchers were rejected by 89% of DC voters in a 1981 referendum election, the only time they were consulted. California has twice defeated ballot measures for vouchers.

Republicans and rogue politicians
Tuition vouchers are one aspect of the Republican plan to privatize public education with the allure of school choice. “Moderate Democrat” (read “crypto-Republican”) Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has broken rank from the Party. DC Mayor Anthony Williams broke from the DC City Council. The DC School Board president broke from the majority of that board. These elected officials, disagreeing with the policy set by majority vote of their electorates and constituent boards, are going off on their own. In this instance they represent no one but themselves and are abusing the authority of their office as they try to impose vouchers on the citizens of the District of Columbia.

Feinstein’s short-cut
Senator Feinstein claims altruistic motive – “because it is a good bill” – but if this were true, the bill would carry itself. Certainly it would be able to withstand scrutiny. But she chose to avoid scrutiny. She circumvented the standard Senate process of starting a bill in subject-area committee, then proceeding through deliberative stages. Instead, she invoked a rarely-allowed stratagem to bring her vouchers directly to the Appropriations Committee as part of the entire DC budget, and the committee had no choice but to report out the entire bill on a take-it or leave-it basis.

Richard Durbin (D-IL) took exception to Feinstein’s disrespect for the Senate’s hallowed procedures. For the first time in US history, he said, the federal government is about to embark upon tuition funding for private and parochial schools at the expense of the public school system but the relevant committees in the Senate have not had the opportunity to perform their duty on this controversial legislation. Feinstein’s proposal to spend two-thirds of the public school budget on charter and private or parochial schools is bizarre. She proposes to dismantle the system in order to save it, and she demands that the Senate give its approval simply on her say so.

Feinstein’s answer to this and other criticism during the floor debate was, “You know what? I don’t care. My career is at a point where I can do what is right….” Only now? How would she characterize the long list of controversial decisions made before, during her 30-year climb up the double ladder of political power and personal enrichment?

Feed the hungry giant
Are k-12 vouchers the right thing? If the federal government approves them in DC, this opens the door for federal funding of tuition scholarships throughout the nation. Inexorably. Given that the Catholic school system is the country’s largest and most romanticized, great numbers of public school students will be flocking to this apparent haven. But if the problem with public schools is in the student population, then dispersing the problem seems like a vexatious solution.

Catholic schools, on the other hand, are worried about declining enrollments. The Catholic News Service website reported on August 18, 2003 that 140 Catholic schools had been closed or consolidated during the 2002-2003 school year while 47 new schools opened. The current school year saw additional closings in Boston, Pittsburg, Philadelphia and Newark, NJ. Catholic bishops around the country are ready to pounce on Feinstein vouchers.

Permissible discrimination
The Bush/Feinstein voucher bill does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Moreover, the bill specifically permits discrimination for religious reasons. No flamboyant or politicized homosexuals need apply for a Feinstein voucher?

Consequences for Sexual Minorities
It is uncertain whether Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning voucher students will be accepted into the parochial schools. If they are, they will have to be quiet about their orientation. Catholic schools do not permit gay student clubs, or gay dating, or gay dances. LGBTQ students will not learn about their wellness in a repressive Catholic environment. They will acquire the paranoia, fear and self-loathing of a covert existence and surreptitious encounters.

Catholic schools do not teach sex education. They condemn the use of contraceptives, even though people from 15 to 25 years of age now constitute the largest group of people of new cases of HIV infection, and more than half of this group world-wide are women. HIV is most easily transmitted through sexual exchange of bodily fluids, and HIV leads to AIDS in 100% of cases. HIV/AIDS is sex-related, not gay-related, but the Catholic church pretends otherwise, and sex education is generally considered taboo.

Bigotry on parade
One cannot repeat enough the injury and suffering inflicted on sexual minorities by Catholic dogmatism. Every instance warrants public disclosure. The Vatican’s latest public screed slurring the integrity of same-sex relationships is a perfect example on a global scale. But local incidents need to be reported, too.

The Lexicon
In May 2003, the Vatican released an 867-page lexicon on bio-ethics and the family. In its article on homosexuality and homophobia, the lexicon re-asserts the usual defamation of gay and lesbian people. It also claims that organized homosexual groups manipulate society into feeling guilty about homophobia, implying that Catholics should not take on this guilt. Homophobia is a contrivance, not a crime, it says. Homosexuality “has no rights because it has no social value.”

The Press
This was reported in the official semi-monthly newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, California, a paper which reaches 98,000 families across Alameda and Contra Costa counties on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

When a sardonic letter of approval subsequently appeared, I protested. The paper declined to print my letter, or any defending the human rights of sexual minorities. Instead, it printed a foreboding about “the homosexual agenda” and headlined the Vatican’s harangue to Catholic politicians that they are duty-bound to oppose the civil rights of gays for the good of society.

The Bureaucracy
Roman Catholicism is a global ideology centrally controlled from the Vatican, a religious bureaucracy equivalent to the Kremlin, and no less sinister. Within the Oakland diocese, the Vatican instructs 536,000 Catholics and controls 88 parishes, 2 missions, 57 elementary and 9 high schools with the doctrine that Catholics should not feel guilty about their homophobia because “homosexuals have no rights and no social value.”

Pity and hate
Are mainstream Catholics influenced by this pernicious Nazi philosophy? Yes! The nation’s leading Catholic newspaper, Our Sunday Visitor, on August 17, 2003 ran a layman’s editorial opinion entitled, “We Have Met the Enemy: Compassion for Homosexuals is Christian, But the Gay-Rights Advocates Want to Destroy Christianity.” The writer posits that gays are in “a difficult and unenviable situation in life. How could a Christian not feel sympathy and compassion for persons with such unfortunate proclivities? But the gay movement is a totally different story. … This is a social-political movement that … aims at the destruction of … Christianity itself.”

The Catechism
Catholic teaching would like us to need its pity. When we reject false notions of “unfortunate proclivities” and proclaim our normalcy and the beauty of our sexualities, then Catholicism shows its wicked propensity for hatred. The Vatican’s official Catechism of the Catholic Church advocates what it calls “just discrimination” against sexual minorities in civil areas of housing and employment, at the same time saying, with mordant sarcasm, that “unjust discrimination against homosexuals should be avoided.” This catechism is the dogmatic teaching authority, referred to more often than the Bible. You see, Catholics fear the words of a priest more than the word of God.

Manchurian candidate
Would non-Catholics be unduly influenced in a Catholic school? You betcha! Dianne Feinstein herself stated on the Senate floor that she attended Catholic high school in San Francisco and what she learned from the nuns got her into Stanford University. She is living proof that Catholic education is a gateway to upward mobility and possible entry into the elite. For those students left in the public school system, the implication is that their chances for social and economic achievement are slim, if not doomed.

Feinstein comes from 6,000 years of Jewish history and culture. She did not lose her Jewish identity as a result of her parochial schooling, but children with an ethnic background that is not inherently defined by religious belief might be more vulnerable to Catholic indoctrination. Feinstein was not converted, yet she was unconsciously won over to Catholic school education despite her cultural solidity. Fifty years later, she appears on the Senate floor like a “manchurian candidate,” carrying a brief for the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington.

The Archbishop’s letter which Senator Feinstein read to the Senate, states that the student population of DC parochial schools is already 47% non-Catholic, and in some of his inner-city schools, 65% and higher. In the spirit of charity, the Archbishop stands ready to accept even more. Oddly, Sen. Feinstein does not have support from the Jewish establishment for her vouchers.

Value of a Catholic education
The National Catholic Educational Association website holds that there are three reasons why parents place their children in Catholic schools: superior academic achievement of Catholic school students; secure and disciplined learning environments; and “for a total education, which includes growth in religious awareness and an appreciation of morals and values.”

Precisely the problem
Public taxpayer dollars should not finance the teaching of sectarian values. Public money is better spent on public education. Please contact your senators and your school boards today and say “No” to District of Columbia tuition vouchers.

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Joined: 20 Apr 2003
Posts: 28

Posted: 6 Nov 2003, 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree no one has the right or ability to declare "this is how God wants it," especially in relation to others. It is wrong, therefore to fund this with tax dollars.


A) Describing Catholic dogma as "unholy" is a bit off base. It's opinion, mochiron, but to desribe anything as unholy implies divine mandate. Just a pet peeve.

B) If schools fail, ultimately it is better to allow parents the choice in their children's education than to let it drag them down. And if secular schools can get the dollars, isn't it discrimination not to let religious schools do so as well?
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