Workers Could Be Fired
Web, September 23, 2005
Washington, Sept. 22 -- The
House of Representatives on Thursday passed an extension of the Head Start early
childhood program but an amendment added at the last minute could put the jobs
of LGBT education workers at risk.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate, aims at improving teacher quality in
preschool programs. About 900,000 preschoolers from low income families
currently take part Head Start. The extension passed Thursday seeks to
increase that to more than 1 million.
The School Readiness Act, which is backed by the White House, passed 231-184
with most Democrats and a handful of Republicans voting against it after an
amendment was added that would allow taxpayer funded faith-based organizations
to discriminate in employment.
The amendment put forward by Rep. John Boehner (R Ohio) will allow faith-based
Head Start providers to hire exclusively on the basis of adherence to a
The provision could allow an employer to use "religion" as a proxy to fire a
gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Head Start teacher. The amendment
also threatens to override local and state nondiscrimination laws that protect
workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender
The White House backed the amendment to the bill, saying it would protect
religious groups from having to "forfeit their religious hiring autonomy."
During debate, Rep. Maxine Waters (D Cal) called the amendment divisive.
"A faith-based initiative has no place in Head Start. Don't start the
resegregation of America."
Passage of the measure also drew criticism from the nation's largest LGBT civil
"Congress should never fund discrimination with Americans' tax dollars," said
HRC President Joe Solmonese.
"Faith-based organizations have been partnering successfully with the government
for years without the need to bypass civil rights laws in providing social