LGBT policy stokes voucher debate at Bloomington school

(WISH Photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A controversial policy could lose an Indiana school hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lighthouse Christian Academy’s new policy handbook says it can deny LGBT students. This comes despite the school in Bloomington accepting more than $1 million in state money during the past three years.

The kindergarten through 12th grade school started in 1991. The policy book states its students must live a biblical lifestyle.

“I moved here from New York, and this is the Midwest, and things like that happen,” Bloomington resident Connie Shakalis said. “I’m not surprised.”

“I think that’s a complicated issue, but I’m concerned where Department of Education is going with the school voucher program,” Bloomington resident Lauren Travis said.

In fact, the state gives the Christian school money through its voucher program. Over the past three years, the number of students using it has nearly doubled — from 72 to 152.

The funding for the program has nearly doubled, too. Since 2014, the school has received $1,354,648. But that may change.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick sent Indiana Statehouse Bureau the following statement:

I believe all schools that receive public money should be held to the same standard, whether that is the level of financial disclosure, academic reporting or admissions. In the legislative sessions to come, I call upon the Indiana General Assembly to ensure our laws reflect this and protect all students.”

School spokesperson Brian Bailey defended its policy:

While some politicians may scorn this standard and hector poor families and their children, who want to enjoy its beneficent effects, we see no reason why socio-economic status should bar a child from an educational environment committed to a transcendent moral order.”

With the legislative session months away, it’s a debate that could last several months. “Even though personally I think it would be wrong, I think if the school were private, then they pretty much have more control over whom they allow in,” Shakalis said.

The school believes its state funding shouldn’t go away. It said low-income families should have the right to choose a school with their practices. The legislature won’t meet until January.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV