LOUISIANA: Senate Panel Approves Bill To Ban Gay Kids From Charter Schools

In a move that is backed by the Louisiana Family Council, a state Senate committee has approved a GOP bill that would make it legal for charter schools to refuse admittance to gay children. The bill also authorizes schools to turn away students with poor English skills and with physical challenges. Charter schools are private institutions contracted by the state to serve public school students.

State Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell [left] , said his bill is designed to ensure that executive branch agencies and local governments stop including bans on discrimination against characteristics not listed in state law as a condition for private companies to do business with their agencies. The state Department of Education contracts with those seeking charter schools were the chief examples cited during testimony for Senate Bill 217. Gov. Bobby Jindal did not respond to requests for comment about calls to unilaterally strip the anti-discriminatory language from the department’s contract criteria. On the other side, state Sen. Ed Murray, the only “no” in the 5-1 vote by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations committee, said the possibility of SB217 becoming law and negating the anti-discriminatory prohibitions in charter school contracts is “really scary.”

The state Education Department mandates that: “Charter schools may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance, special need proficiency in the English language.” Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office responded to the bill by saying, “We’re against discrimination, but we don’t believe in special protections or rights.”