Dear Maryland Christian School Community,
ACSIMD and other Faith Based Coalitions have been tracking Senate Bill 98, which will soon be voted on in the Senate. This bill has already passed in the House.
We are asking you to take just a few minutes and use the Voter Voice Link below to urge your Senator to stop this very negative bill to faith based and religious schools:
This bill would establish that all nonpublic primary or secondary schools that receive state funds may not refuse enrollment of, expel, or withhold privileges from any student or prospective student, because of the individual's race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
This is a similar bill to attempts to do the same thing in previous legislative sessions. This year there is more support for this bill than in past years.
Imposing the non-discrimination language of this bill on religious schools violates their rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, including the Free Exercise Clause, the Free Speech Clause, and the Establishment Clause. This bill is a clear attempt to challenge conscience protections for faith-based schools participating in state programs, and this bill does not provide First Amendment Free Exercise Clause protections. This bill would force many faith-based schools to abandon exceptions for religious entities already placed in law by forcing them to choose between participating in an otherwise available state benefit or remaining a religious institution that is free to exercise its First Amendment rights.
This legislation will deprive children, many of them from very low-income families, of the benefits of state programs that make their school day better and more productive. This bill is detrimental to more than 80,000 of the 120,000 preK-12 nonpublic school students in the state whose schools are eligible for the longstanding Nonpublic Student Textbook Program, and more than 180 schools that participate in the Nonpublic Aging Schools Program. To even greater detriment, the bill would effectively take away scholarships from thousands of FARMs-eligible, low-income, state scholarship recipients, the majority of who are minorities and/or English language learners.
Thank you for standing together as we exercise responsible and timely participation in our legislative process regarding this important issue.