The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that will facilitate religious indoctrination.
State Bill 17 supposedly nurtures different viewpoints in the classroom, but will likely confuse public school employees and lead to avoidable lawsuits. The bill mostly protects conduct that is already legal for students, but adds new protections for teachers that could lead to constitutional violations. Embedded in the bill is language that allows public school educators to promote personal religious beliefs to students.
SB 17 has already passed through the state Senate and now goes to the House. Please call and email your state representative today to voice your opposition to a bill that will result in preventable lawsuits and the violation of students' rights to a public education free from proselytization.
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(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the bill.)
SB 17 will create problems in an attempt to solve a nonexistent issue. Troublingly, it encourages teachers to "teach about religion with the use of the Bible or other scripture, but without providing religious instruction." However, it does not clearly delineate what is appropriate for a public school classroom. Teachers are also told that they can "teach about religious holidays, including religious aspects," which is a common way that teachers seek to indoctrinate students with their personal religious viewpoints. These common state/church separation violations will proliferate under SB 17.
The bill also includes new obligations for the state's public schools that go well beyond what is constitutionally required. For instance, public schools and universities will no longer be able to enforce nondiscrimination policies for student groups. Thanks to the new law, a religious student group would now be able to operate on campus while excluding LGBT students, or any other minority group, from joining.