Bill Forces Faith-Based Schools To Choose Compromise Or Closure

As part of our Digital Day of Action, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) is highlighting one piece of proposed state legislation from each of the four policy areas in which we work: Protecting human life, promoting strong families, preserving religious liberty, and proclaiming justice and mercy.

As we work to preserve religious liberty, NYCF opposes efforts to force Christian schools to compromise their Christian identities. Accordingly, we oppose Bill S.722-Hoylman.

Bill S.722-Hoylman would apply the 2010 Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) to nonpublic schools. DASA contains a variety of provisions to address the problem of bullying in schools. It also bans discrimination and harassment against public school students on the basis of several criteria, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.” Since the passage of DASA, its nondiscrimination provisions have been used to force public schools to allow students that identify as “transgender” to use opposite-sex facilities.

Religious schools educate tens of thousands of New York students each year. Schools whose religious tenets forbid homosexual behavior and “transgender” behavior should not be forced to grant male students access to access girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, to allow male students to compete in girls’ sporting events, or to condone student sexual conduct that is deemed immoral within their respective faith traditions.

Furthermore, applying DASA to nonpublic schools would allow their students to complain of discrimination to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and would empower NYSED to investigate nonpublic schools for noncompliance. NYSED’s recent attempt to impose new substantial equivalency regulations upon nonpublic schools backfired. This bill is another unnecessary and counterproductive overreach.

While DASA’s efforts to combat bullying in schools are well-intentioned, its provisions on gender and sexuality stand at odds with the teachings of Scripture. This bill would force many of New York’s faith-based schools to choose between violating the law, violating their own beliefs, and closing their doors. This set of options is unacceptable, and this bill must not become law.