Crosspoint Church, which operates Bangor Christian School, seeks a constitutional right to openly discriminate against and exclude students from publicly funded education based on their identity. In our “friend of the court” brief, we argue that the right to discriminate has never been recognized by any court, and this Court should not be the first. Public dollars should never be used to discriminate.

Case Background:

Maine is one of a few states with a school choice program, in Maine referred to as the Town Tuitioning Program. The Town Tuitioning Program provides public funds for children who live in rural school districts without a public school at their grade level to attend a school—public or private—in another district. In its recent decision in Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court held that religious schools may receive public funds by participating in the Town Tuitioning Program.

Crosspoint Church, which operates Bangor Christian School, openly discriminates against students on the basis of their faith, sexual orientation, and gender identity because it deems these students’ identities and beliefs inconsistent with its own religious beliefs. Private religious entities have long been exempted from nondiscrimination laws. But Crosspoint wants to have it both ways: to receive public funding and remain exempt from nondiscrimination laws.

Maine’s public funding is designed to provide an education for Maine students consistent with the state’s interests. Those interests include ensuring that students receive a baseline education, and therefore schools participating in the state tuitioning program must teach specific courses from a government-approved curriculum. The state’s interests also include eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression to ensure that publicly funded schools are open to all students. Bangor Christian School’s discriminatory policies are in direct conflict with students’ right to an equal education.

District Court Victory:

On May 2, 2023, the ACLU of Maine filed a “friend of the court” brief arguing that any school that chooses to participate in a state-funded education program must comply with the same state regulations as all other program participants, including the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

Crosspoint can choose to decline state funding and continue to be exempt from Maine’s anti-discrimination laws – or it can accept public funding through the state’s tuitioning program and comply with nondiscrimination laws. But it can’t have it both ways. All publicly funded activities or programs must play by the same rules.

On February 27, 2024, United States District Judge John A. Woodcock issued a decision finding that Maine’s anti-discrimination laws are neutral, generally applicable, and related to a legitimate government interest, and therefore these laws do not violate citizens’ right to practice religion. Judge Woodcock’s order means that Maine's anti-discrimination laws will remain in effect while Crosspoint Church's lawsuit continues.

Given the novel constitutional questions posed by the case, we expect that Crosspoint Church will appeal the district court’s decision to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, where we will keep fighting to ensure public dollars are never used to discriminate. 


Carol Garvan, Zachary Heiden, Anahita Sotoohi

Date filed

May 2, 2023


United States District Court District of Maine



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