A private Christian school in Florida that receives taxpayer funding for school vouchers has forced out one of its teachers, she says, because she is gay.
Monica Toro Lisciandro says Covenant Christian School in Palm Bay, Florida not only parted ways with her after she acknowledged she is gay when school administrators asked her, but her students were told her “morals” did not line up with the schools, Lisciandro says.
The school questioned Lisciandro, who teaches theater, after someone called to report saying they had seen her at a pride event.
“Lisciandro said the assistant principal told her the school received word that Lisciandro was in a relationship with a woman, she had attended a pride festival, and she hosted an LGBTQ group in her studio,” Florida Today reports.
“Well, it’s true,” she told the assistant principal.
“I want kids to see me and know that you can be a Christian and you can be gay,” Lisciandro tells Florida today (video below). “You can be gay, you can teach at a Christian school. You don’t have to feel shame about who you love, or who you are, or how you were born to be.”
Covenant Christian School has come under fire recently after reports found the school’s handbook says students can be expelled for being gay. Florida offers no protections for LGBTQ employees, and faith-based schools and workplaces are often exempt from laws that protect LGBTQ people. That handbook has since been removed from the school’s website.
The school also blamed her for leaving.
“I am sorry to say that for personal reasons, Mrs. Lisciandro is not able to continue teaching our musical theater class. We are aggressively pursuing another teacher to finish the class and (direct) our play, and I will keep you posted,” Head of School Lorne Wenzel wrote in an email sent to parents.
Covenant Christian participates in the State of Florida’s school voucher program. That program has come under fire for its anti-LGBTQ policies. One opinion writer, citing the school’s policy of expelling students who are gay, observed, “the line separating church from state has been crossed.”
Those vouchers help offset the school’s tuition. Fees and tuition combined can reach over $8600 per year per student. The school also asks for a voluntary “faith pledge,” or donation, of around $500 per family.
Video via Florida Today:
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‘We Will Stand for the Freedom of Religion’: Pence Brags Trump to Allow Adoption Agencies ‘Right’ to Ban LGBTQ Parents
Vice President Mike Pence this week attended a federal government event during which he bragged about the Trump administration’s latest attack on LGBTQ people. The vice president (video below) heralded a fast-tracked proposed policy from the Dept. of Health and Human Services that would reverse an Obama-era rule barring discrimination by adoption and foster care agencies against LGBTQ people and same-sex couples.
The proposed rollback of that rule is expected to go into effect in just a few weeks, granting government protection to religious, faith-based, or any other adoption organization that wishes to claim a moral opposition to LGBTQ people from facing a loss of federal funding.
“We will stand for the freedom of religion and we will stand with faith-based organizations to support adoption,” Vice President Pence told supporters at an HHS event Tuesday, as he pounded his fists on the podium, to cheers.
“I couldn’t be more proud that at President Trump’s direction and with the strong support of leaders across foster care, adoption, and our faith communities, we’ve taken decisive action,” Pence bragged.
That “decisive action” literally reduces the pool of prospective parents for large numbers of children who don’t have parents or homes.
“More than 100,000 foster children are awaiting adoption, according to government data, but a constellation of religious agencies refuse to consider same-sex parents when placing these children,” NBC News reports. “Shortly before the end of his second term, President Barack Obama changed nondiscrimination rules governing adoption agencies to expand the definition of groups protected against discrimination to include LGBTQ people. Trump’s proposed rule change will undo that.”
In fact, same-sex couples have far higher rates of adopting and fostering children than their different-sex couple peers.
“A 2018 report from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that 1 in 5 of the estimated 114,000 same-sex couples raising children in the United States are raising adopted or foster children — significantly higher than the 3 percent of heterosexual couples doing so.”
The latest discriminatory HHS rule Vice President Pence bragged about comes from Roger Severino, HHS’s Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Severino is known as a “radical” anti-LGBTQ religious right activist who previously served as CEO and counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious right non-profit that opposes separation of church and state. He also once served as the Director of the DeVos family’s Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.
Watch Vice President Pence (video may be slow to load):
Hat tip: Towleroad
Video via Washington Blade/Facebook
Religious Right Activist Ralph Reed: If Christians Don’t Get Trump Re-Elected ‘It Will Be Open Season’ on Churches
Religious right activist Ralph Reed appeared on Stephen Strang’s podcast yesterday, where he warned that if Christians don’t come out in record numbers to ensure the reelection of President Donald Trump in 2020, they will face wholesale persecution from Democrats and they will deserve it.
Strang claimed that “life as we know it as Christians” would be forever changed if Trump does not win.
“It’s going to be bad news, and Christians have to realize that they cannot be complacent,” he said. “[Trump] is our champion and he has come through on his promises again and again, and we’ve got to get him back into a second term to finish what he’s started and also to stop the other side.”
Reed readily agreed, saying that Trump deserves the support of Christians because of what he has done regarding Israel and the judiciary.
“If the Christian community doesn’t rise up like it never has in modern political history and if we allow, through our inaction, the left to remove this man from the Oval Office, then we will deserve everything that we get,” Reed said. “If they get the White House back, it will be open season on Christian ministries, on churches, the IRS will be able to persecute those faith-based organizations again. They will, under Obamacare, be able to force them to pay for abortion again. They will be able to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor and drag God-fearing nuns into federal court again to make them pay for abortion. That’s what will happen, and if we don’t turn out and vote in the biggest numbers ever, then we deserve it to happen.”
This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
New Regulation Would Strip Federal Protections for LGBTQ People from All HHS Programs in Favor of ‘Religious Freedom’
A proposed new regulation would strip all protections for LGBTQ people from all programs administered by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and give special rights to entities or programs that are religious or “faith-based.” HHS, under the direction of Secretary Alex Azar, has a budget of $1.2 trillion affecting the health and well-being, directly or indirectly, of nearly every person in the country.
Lambda Legal says the proposed rule “would invite HHS grantees receiving taxpayer funds to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.”
This rule will openly encourage discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, AND religion in *all* HHS programs.
This is taxpayer-funded discrimination. Religion is NOT a #LicenseToDiscriminate.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) November 1, 2019
While reportedly drafted to focus on adoption and foster care organizations, the Human Rights Campaign also says the proposed rule would extend far beyond those entities to all programs that receive funding from HHS.
“The Trump-Pence White House has proposed a horrific federal regulation that would permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “This would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women in programs related to foster care, adoption, HIV and STI prevention, youth homelessness, refugee resettlement, elder care programs and more. It is unconscionable that the Trump-Pence administration would prioritize advancing discrimination over the wellbeing of vulnerable people and expect taxpayers to foot the bill for their discriminatory policies. The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people and other communities.”
The Washington Blade, noting the proposed regulation “will have far-reaching implications,” reports the proposal would “undo an Obama-era policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation among federal grantees.”
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) the Blade says “the rule will allow anti-trans discrimination in HIV and STI prevention programs, opioid programs, youth homelessness services, health professional training, substance-use recovery programs and other life-saving services.”
“The proposal seeks to gut an Obama-era rule that barred entities receiving money under federal contracts, including adoption agencies, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.”
HHS is reportedly granting only 30 days for public comment and review.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
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