Concerned parents are bringing their case of religious discrimination before the U.S. Supreme Court after a lower court ruled students at religious schools will not qualify for educational benefits.
The ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says students in Maine will only qualify for educational benefits when attending a school that does not provide religious instruction, CBN News reports.
Parents in small town Maine have been paid to send their children to a school of their choosing -- public or private -- since 1973.
That option is not available, however, for children who attend religious or faith-based schools.
Amy and Dave Carson had chosen Bangor Christian Schools for their daughter to attend because it teaches a belief system that is aligned with their faith.
According to the State Department in Maine, the school is a private school approved for attendance but not eligible for the tuition assistance program because it is "sectarian," "instilling a Biblical worldview in its students."
Multiple families impacted by this filed a lawsuit with attornies from the Institute for Justice (IJ) and First Liberty Institute.
IJ senior attorney Michael Bindas says Main is in violation of the U.S. constitution for singling out religious schools for exclusion from its tuition assistance program.
"Parents deserve the right to choose the school that is best for their children, whether it's a school that focuses on STEM instruction, offers language immersion, or provides robust instruction in the arts." Bindas says.
"Maine correctly allows parents to choose such schools—or virtually any other school they think will best serve their kids. But the state flatly bans parents from choosing schools that offer religious instruction (for tuition assistance). That is unconstitutional."
"For 40 years, Maine has rejected parental choice in education and allowed religious discrimination to persist," says Lea Patterson, an attorney with First Liberty Institute.
"The Supreme Court should act now so yet another generation of schoolchildren is not deprived of desperately needed educational opportunity and the right to freely exercise their religion."
Scott Bullock, IJ president and general counsel, says the Supreme Court taking the case and ruling in favour of the parents will allow for a selection of schools -- including faith-based options -- to be truly available to parents and students.
"Now more than ever, it's time to expand educational opportunities for all families."