Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kentucky, Nebraska Enacts New Protections For Religion In Schools

Two states this month have enacted legislation aimed at enhancing free exercise rights in the public school context. In Kentucky, on March 16 Governor Matt Bevin signed SB 17 which protects the expression of religious and political opinions in public schools and colleges. The law assures that students can voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints in their assignments; bars schools from altering remarks of student speakers; provides equal access for religious organizations; allows students to display religious messages on clothing; allows public school teachers to teach about religion using the Bible or other scripture without providing religious instruction, and to teach about religious holidays in a secular manner, and allows schools to sponsor artistic or theatrical programs that advance knowledge of society's cultural and religious heritage. It also effectively bars public colleges from limiting speakers outdoors on campus to free speech zones.  An ADF press release has more on the new law.

In Nebraska, on March 27 Governor Pete Ricketts signed LB 62 eliminating a longstanding ban on teachers wearing religious garb in public schools.  Blog from the Capital has more.