My family would have benefited immensely if they had been able to use taxpayer money to send me to Catholic school.

I went to private Catholic schools from kindergarten all the way up through high school, because my parents thought it would be the best environment for me to succeed in academically and socially (which it absolutely was). They also were fairly religious and liked the idea of their children being raised in an environment with prayer and God, even though we were Episcopalian, not Catholic.

But it was often a financial struggle. My siblings left the Catholic system after elementary and middle school because, basically, we ran out of money. There were many occasions where I couldn’t take my final exams at the same time as the other students in high school because we hadn’t paid our tuition in full.

That being said, I absolutely, positively, utterly, completely and steadfastly oppose using taxpayer money for private religious schools.

Not just because I believe in a concrete separation between church and state, but also because I believe public money should be for public education. If you’re receiving public money, you should be serving all members of the public. Some members of the public are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Bangor Christian Schools, a subsidiary of Crosspoint Church, is currently fighting tooth and nail to get public money while flagrantly discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community.


The school is welcome to its beliefs. It is welcome to practice religion as it sees fit. As an American, I’m a big fan of freedom of religion. I took a look at a recent Bangor Christian Schools student handbook, which says that “any deviation from the sexual identity that God created will not be accepted.” The school does not accept all students. As a result, it should not receive public money.

The student handbook also states that the school believes “men and women are spiritually equal in position before God but that God has ordained distinct and separate spiritual functions for men and women in the home and the church … men are to be the leaders of the church.”

And then, a few paragraphs later, it has the audacity to say: “Bangor Christian Schools does not discriminate in its practices against any person because of … gender.” But it literally, clearly does. If you’d discipline a girl for kissing another girl but not for kissing a boy, that’s discrimination on the basis of gender. The absolute nerve!

I guess I’m just confused. The Catholic Church doesn’t like gay people either. It thinks we’re all sinners. The Catholic Church also doesn’t allow women into positions of leadership in the church. And yet, when I came out as gay at the end of my sophomore year, I didn’t get punished, or expelled, or spoken to, or even prayed about (at least, not to my face). What’s the big difference between these faith traditions? God will sort it all out when we die, right?

Christ is an outstretched hand. That hand can be outstretched in welcome, or to offer aid; it can also be raised in the universal “stop” signal or, worse, used as a fist. It’s the latter kind of faith, the type that’s aggressive and in-your-face and focused on exclusion rather than inclusion, that has turned my generation away from organized religion.

I recoil at using the word “Christian” to describe myself because I don’t want to be grouped together with the people who think my existence and my love is an aberration unto the Lord, or who think my gender should be subservient to men. And that’s sad. My years in Christian schools still influence me today. I grew up in communities that consistently modeled generosity in the name of Jesus, and I make many of my day-to-day moral decisions based on that.

Despite their stance on bisexuality (they’re against it), Bangor Christian and its associated church clearly want to go both ways. They want our money, but they don’t want to deal with all of our children. And that’s my problem. With great power comes great responsibility. With public money comes public responsibility (and accountability). I’m sure that getting state tuition reimbursement would make their financial situation easier. They’re welcome to do what my parents did: Work more hours, trim their budget. And pray.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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