Fact Sheets: The Truth About Vouchers

Anti-Discrimination Protections and Civil Rights

  • Voucher advocate Clint Bolick has specifically opposed civil rights protections in proposed federal voucher legislation. In a memo to voucher allies in 1997, Bolick stated that he met with "representatives of the Catholic Conference who urged that the [proposed Washington D.C. voucher] bill contain the full panoply of federal civil rights regulations, including Title IX (gender) and disability provisions. We argued strongly against those regulations."36
  • In 1999, under pressure from some voucher advocates following the inclusion of religious schools in the expanded Milwaukee program, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction withdrew its requirement that participating schools sign an agreement to abide by the state's Pupil Nondiscrimination Act and a number of pupil rights protections.37 The Act prohibits schools from denying admission based on, among other things, a person's sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability.38

    State Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) introduced a bill in the fall of 1999 that would hold participating voucher schools to the same anti-discrimination statutes as public schools-such as gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy or marital status.39 The bill met with strong opposition from legislators who support the voucher program. In June 2001, Rep. Sinicki's bill was incorporated into State Senate Democrats' budget package, but was omitted from the final version of the budget passed by the legislature.40

  • In 2001, Wisconsin State Senator Russ Decker (D-Schofield) also revisited this issue when he filed a motion with the Joint Finance Committee that would require all private voucher schools to comply with the same pupil nondiscrimination statutory requirements as public schools. The motion failed in May by a party-line vote, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans in opposition.41
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