Press Room

September 21, 2005

Category: Schools

Amendment to Head Start Bill Allows Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination

'Congress should never fund discrimination with Americans' tax dollars,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON - Long-established civil rights protections faced another attack today in the House of Representatives with the passage of an amendment to the School Readiness Act that will allow taxpayer-funded faith-based organizations to discriminate in employment. The amendment to the bill - which authorizes spending on the federal pre-school program "Head Start" - was offered by Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and passed 220-196.

"Congress should never fund discrimination with Americans' tax dollars," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Faith-based organizations have been partnering successfully with the government for years without the need to bypass civil rights laws in providing social services."

The bill as amended would allow faith-based Head Start providers to discriminate on the basis of religion in federally funded positions, even when operating a purely secular program. This provision could allow an employer to use "religion" as a proxy to fire a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Head Start teacher. The amendment also threatens to override local and state non-discrimination laws that protect workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"We deeply respect the faith community's contributions to caring for the most vulnerable among us. But to use federal money to discriminate sacrifices our commitment to equality for every American," added Solmonese.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country.It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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