D.C. Council Wants Vouchers
GLAA to Councilmembers: Keep your promises against vouchers
From: Rick Rosendall for Mitch Wood Sent: Monday, July 20, 2009 10:33 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Subject: Councilmembers: Keep your promises against vouchers
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013
July 20, 2009
The Honorable Yvette Alexander
The Honorable Marion Barry
The Honorable Kwame Brown
The Honorable Michael Brown
The Honorable David Catania
The Honorable Harry Thomas, Jr.
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
We were very disappointed to learn from an editorial in the July 13 issue of the Wall Street Journal that each of you signed a letter on June 22 to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Mayor Fenty endorsing the continuation of the federally funded school voucher program for students currently enrolled in the program.
As you know, most of the taxpayer funds for this program have been channeled into religious schools that are exempt from the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 and that are allowed under the First Amendment to discriminate against gay and lesbian students, teachers and staff. Most of these schools are controlled by religious institutions that make no secret of their homophobia. No such schools will hire openly gay teachers, and none will allow the formation of Gay/Straight Alliances.
When we raised this issue in our most recent election campaigns, every one of you publicly expressed your opposition to any locally or federally funded voucher program that would subsidize religious schools. I have attached a compilation of your answers on this issue from the questionnaires you signed and submitted to us in either 2006 or 2008. Your signature on the June 22 letter represents a complete flip-flop. We are dismayed that the Wall Street Journal and others may now claim that District residents support continuing, and even expanding and perpetuating, the Congressionally-imposed voucher program.
Your stated concern for the welfare of students currently enrolled in the voucher program unfortunately betrays a corresponding lack of concern for the welfare of GLBT students and teachers, not to mention your other GLBT constituents.
We ask you to repudiate your endorsement of the June 22 letter and to reassert your previous commitment to the D.C. Human Rights Act.
Cc: Mayor Adrian Fenty
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Council Chairman Vincent Gray
RESPONSES OF SELECTED DC COUNCILMEMBERS TO GLAA QUESTION ON VOUCHERS FOR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS
The identical question was asked on both the 2006 and 2008 candidate questionnaires from the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance: Do you oppose both federal and local voucher programs that fund students in religious schools that are beyond the protections of the D.C. Human Rights Act?
Here are the answers submitted and signed by the Councilmembers who previously opposed the voucher program but who have signed the June 2009 letter to Congress endorsing a continuation of the voucher program for students already enrolled.
Yvette Alexander I will not support federal and local funding of voucher programs for students in religious schools that are beyond the protections of the Human Rights Act and before any dollars are allocated I will ensure that all their practices satisfy the DC Human Rights Act.
Marion Barry All institutions should come under the DC Human Rights Act.
Kwame Brown Yes. I oppose DC government issued vouchers for private schools.
Michael Brown Yes. No government funding should be supporting any institutions that are not bound by the DC Human Rights Act.
David Catania Yes.
Harry Thomas, Jr. Yes.