Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani praise Fifth Third Bank for standing with LGBTQ students, employees

By : Samantha Neely
Comments: 0
ABOVE: Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani at the Florida State Capitol Building in Tallahassee Jan. 23. (Photo from Rep. Smith’s Facebook page)

Fifth Third Bank announced on Jan. 28 that they will no longer be donating to Florida’s voucher system if it continues to support voucher schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees 

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Rep. Anna V. Eskamani called the bank out on social media for funding anti-LGBTQ, with Smith tweeting, “Marching in @OrlandoPride while also funding anti-LGBTQ schools is NOT okay!” 

The bank responded to Smith in a pair of tweets.

We definitely stand with #LGBTQ students and parents. 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. (And we will see you at the next @OrlandoPride!) 

Both Smith and Eskamani publicly thanked Fifth Bank for pulling out the program.

This came after the Orlando Sentinel ran a piece titled “Anti-LGBTQ Florida schools getting school vouchers” that chronicled how religious anti-LGBTQ schools were getting $129 million in school vouchers while condemning or banning students, parents or employees who identified as part of the LGBTQ communityThe Sentinel reported that they found 83 schools that “refused to admit LGBTQ students or could expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered.” 

Fifth Third has donated $5.4 million to the program, according to the Sentinel.  

Rosen Resorts and Allegiant Air have also pulled their funding for Florida’s Step Up for Students program. The Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell had reported back in June that Rosen pulled out of funding the program, citing that, “it wanted to fund school choice, but would never agree to fund blatant discrimination.” 

“We applaud Fifth Third Bank in their decision to pull funding out of the state’s discriminatory voucher program and urge other companies like Geico, Dunkin’ Brands, AutoNation, and Duke Energy to do the same,” Eskamani said in a written statement on Jan. 28. 

Two house bills have been filed that would revise private schools’ eligibility for state school choice scholarship programif they discriminate against LGBTQ students, House Bill 45 by Eskamani and House Bill 56 by Sen. Darryl Rouson. These bills would protect kids and employees at voucher schools from discrimination 

“This is a MAJOR WIN in protecting our kids and in combatting discrimination!” Eskamani said in a tweet on Jan. 28. “As more corporations decide where they stand on the issue of equality, it becomes ever more important for the legislature to ACT!” 

Share this story: