Equality N.C. pushes back against Myrtle Grove admissions policy

Published: Nov. 26, 2013 at 11:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2013 at 11:46 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A statewide gay-rights group is pushing back against Myrtle Grove Christian School's new admissions policies that could allow it to ban students from gay families.

Representatives from Equality N.C. called the "Biblical morality" policy discriminatory and said it's not what the state stands for.

"As a Catholic American, my faith has long taught me that fairness and love are the most important principles to live by," said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC. "Myrtle Grove is by no means embodying those principles when they reject students or their families."

The group is especially concerned about giving state money to private schools that have admissions policies like the one at Myrtle Grove.

Starting in 2014, low-income families can apply for state-funded "opportunity scholarships," or vouchers, to help send children to private schools.

It's unclear if Myrtle Grove plans to accept vouchers, as they haven't returned WECT's repeated requests for information.

Representative Susi Hamilton said she supports Christian education but not what she called "taxpayer-funded discrimination."

"I'm embarrassed frankly, as a native North Carolinian, to live in a community and to live in a state where we would blatantly send a public notice around saying, 'we don't want your kids,'" she said.

When lawmakers return to Raleigh next year, Hamilton said she will push to block public funding from schools with discriminatory admissions policies.

The N.C. Values Coalition released the following statement:

"Myrtle Grove Christian School is a private school. They do not receive any government funding.  And, even if they did, neither North Carolina law nor federal law give special rights to gay and lesbian students. Radical gay rights groups in our State are attempting to bully this school by forcing the school to go against their religious beliefs, which the First Amendment protects. Private schools can set their own admission criteria, and all of them do. Myrtle Grove is entitled to do the same, and the government can't tell them which students to admit, especially when it violates their religious liberty.  

"The opportunity scholarship program is not in effect now, and it will not be in effect until the school year of 2014-15. Under the program, scholarships are awarded to students and their parents, who can use the scholarship at the school that most suits their needs. The US Supreme Court has upheld opportunity scholarship programs like North Carolina's, and we are confident that allowing students to use their scholarships to attend schools like Myrtle Grove is both lawful and appropriate. Gay rights radicals have no right to impose their views on sexuality on private school students and their parents."

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