The Indiana House will soon vote on a bill that will facilitate religious indoctrination in public schools.
House Bill 1024 supposedly nurtures religious 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 it adds new obligations for public schools that could lead to constitutional violations. Laced into the bill is language that will encourage public school educators and religious students to impose their personal beliefs on others.
Please take action against this bill, which will require school bodies to create an elective high school course on religions, and encourage student speakers to pray and express their personal religious beliefs at school forums such as graduation ceremonies.
HB 1024 has already passed out of the Education Committee and now goes to the full Indiana House for a vote. 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.)
HB 1024 sows confusion by declaring a new set of protections for actions by students that are already legal. The bill then goes beyond these unnecessary protections and creates new obligations for public schools that will create problems in an attempt to solve a nonexistent issue. Troublingly, it requires school bodies to create an elective high school course on religions. The bill leaves open what specific content must be taught in the course, which will foreseeably result in teachers using the course as an opportunity to promote their personal religious beliefs to students. Indoctrination by public school teachers is a common state/church separation violation that will undoubtedly proliferate under HB 1024.
The bill also includes other obligations for the state's public schools that go well beyond what is constitutionally required. For instance, under the bill, public schools must create a "forum" at all events where students can speak, such as at graduation ceremonies. The law is written to encourage student speakers to pray and express their personal religious beliefs at these events. If a student does not want to be indoctrinated in another student's religion, the bill suggests the person "be excused" from the event. This would essentially force minority religious and nonreligious students and their families to choose between attending graduation and avoiding a religious ritual with which they disagree.