Bank stops voucher program donations over anti-gay schools

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A bank says it will stop donating millions of dollars to Florida’s private school voucher program after reports that some schools in the program discriminate against LGBTQ students.

In a tweet to a Florida lawmaker on Tuesday, Fifth Third Bank said it has told officials with the state voucher program it will stop participating.

“We have communicated with program officials that we will not be contributing again until more inclusive policies have been adopted by all participating schools to protect the sexual orientation of all our students,” the Ohio-based bank tweeted to state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

The decision comes after an Orlando Sentinel investigation found that 156 private Christian schools with anti-gay views educated more than 20,800 students with tuition paid for by state scholarships. Of those, the report said, 83 refused to admit LGBTQ students or would expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered.

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The investigation also found that many companies with pro-LGBTQ policies had donated to the program in exchange for write-offs on their state tax bills. Among them was Fifth Third Bank, which contributed $5.4 million in 2018 to the program.

An email seeking comment from the Florida Department of Education didn’t get an immediate response on Wednesday.

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