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Businesses pull Florida voucher donations over anti-gay school policies

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SAN RAFAEL, CA – APRIL 13: A sign for a Wells Fargo bank hangs above the office on April 13, 2018 in San Rafael, California. Wells Fargo reported better than expected first quarter earnings with a profit of $5.94 billion but may need to update the results as investigations into the bank’s auto loans and […]

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) – Wyndham Destinations, Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bank said they 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.

Wells Fargo said in a statement the company values diversity and inclusion and opposes discrimination of any kind.

“We have reviewed this matter carefully and have decided to no longer support Step Up for Students. All of us at Wells Fargo highly value diversity and inclusion, and we oppose discrimination of any kind.”

Fifth Third Bank said in a statement that it will stop participating in the program until the schools have more inclusive policies.

“We reevaluated further participation and communicated our decision to the program officials to not contribute further until more inclusive policies have been adopted by all participating schools to protect the sexual orientation of all our students.”

The decision comes after an Orlando Sentinel investigation found 156 private Christian schools with anti-gay views educated more than 20,800 students with tuition paid for by state scholarships. The report says 83 of those schools refused to admit LGBTQ students.

The handbook for the Trinity Christian Academy, for one, calls homosexuality immoral and prohibits identifying as gay or transgender — or using such “behavior.”

Other forms of discrimination are also at issue, more than a year ago, WESH 2 News reported that a student on a voucher was kicked out of a private school over his dreadlocks.

“The reality is, the private school voucher prorgam we have in the state really doesn’t have any accountability and very little transparancy.”

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith is ultimately asking for changes to the program.

He posted to Twitter about the companies which march in Pride parades, but also back the program called into question.

“When we engaged our followers on social media, we found some of these corporations were very responsive, more responsive even than legislators.”

NBC News reported on Thursday that Orlando-based Wyndham became the third major company to stop donations.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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