Vouchers Undermine Civil Rights

Private voucher schools do not provide the same rights and protections to students as public schools, such as those in Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. And, students who attend private schools using vouchers are stripped of the First Amendment, due process, and other constitutional and statutory rights guaranteed to them in public schools.

For more on federal nondiscrimination laws and private voucher schools, see How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination

LGBT Students & Parents:

Private schools that accept taxpayer-funded vouchers often deny admission to LGBT students and students with LGBT parents. In addition, many teach anti-LGBT curriculum. A 2013 study of a Georgia tuition tax credit program found that “at least 115 private schools [participating in the program] have explicit anti-gay policies or belong to associations that condemn homosexuality.”

In North Carolina, voucher programs also fund schools that have explicit anti-LGBT policies. For example, one school's handbook states that it will refuse to admit and will expel students that are "living in, condoning, or supporting any form of sexual immorality; practicing or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.”

Students of Color:

Studies from across the country find that racial segregation is higher in private schools that accept vouchers than in the public schools. In addition, white students use taxpayer-funded vouchers more often than students of color. 

In Milwaukee in 2013-2014, more than 77% of African American students in the public schools attended “intensely segregated” schools, but for African American students in the voucher program, that number rose to more than 85%. A 2010 study of Georgia’s tuition tax credit program revealed that while only 10% of white students in public schools attended “virtually segregated” schools, within the program at private schools, this rose dramatically to 53%. Furthermore, in Cleveland’s voucher program, minority students were much more likely than their peers to have never entered a voucher program or left their voucher program and returned to public schools.

More Information:

Center for American Progress Report, The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers


Some state voucher programs allow private schools to discriminate against students based on their or their families’ religious beliefs. For example, according to its written policy, a North Carolina private school accepting vouchers denies admission to “those in cults, i.e. Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Christian Science, Unification Church, Zen Buddhism, Unitarianism, and United Pentecostal.” Some schools also condition admission on adhering to certain religious principles. For example, the Government Accountability Office’s 2016 study identified one voucher school that required all students in fourth grade and above to follow a list of religious principles.

In addition, private school vouchers violate the religious freedom of taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill for religious education and threaten the autonomy of private religious schools.

Read More on Vouchers and Religious Liberty.