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Bills pending to give students religious expression at school

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

State legislators are considering two bills in the House that would give students freedom for religious expression at school.

MGN Online

PINEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - State legislators are considering two bills in the House that would give students freedom for religious expression at school.

WYMT talked to some students in Bell County on what it would mean for them.

Pineville High School students Caleb Dunn and Dalton Payne bring Bibles to school and regularly study scripture during school hours.

"It's a very important thing to me and my family," said Dunn.

The two teens say they have never felt restricted in showing their faith but say they do watch what they say in class or on school property.

Now two bills pending in the state legislature would protect their right to show their faith.

"I think this would help a lot it's hard being a Christian at school with everything you hear and stuff going on, so I believe it would help a lot," said Dunn.

State Representative Keith Hall, one of the sponsors, told us the bills would ensure students can pray on campus, express religious viewpoints in class or assignments, or allow them to publicly speak about religion at school functions with no discrimination or punishment.

"I think it's a good thing because in school, I think we should have the freedom to do what we need to do to serve the Lord, I believe," said Payne.

The two similar bills, House bills 426 and 435, are in the House Education Committee.

These two students hope to see them pass.

"To serve the Lord here at school, if you have the freedom and you know you're able to do it, it makes you want to do better while you're here," said Payne.

Rep. Hall says if passed, the bills would protect students freedom of religion.

Rep. Hall told us the bills have both democrat and republican sponsors and have bi-partisan support in the legislature.

Here are the proposed bills that would amend KRS 158.183 which went into effect in 1998.

House Bill 426
AN ACT relating to voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints in public schools.
Amend KRS 158.183 to permit students to voluntarily express religious viewpoints in school assignments free from discrimination and to organize prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups; create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to require each board of education to adopt and implement a policy regarding voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints and to establish a limited public forum for student speakers at all school events at which a student is to publicly speak, including graduation; designate procedure for selection of student speakers; require subject of speech to be relevant to event; require district disclaimer indicating nonendorsement of the content of voluntary expressions by students.

House Bill 435
AN ACT relating to voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints in public schools.
Amend KRS 158.183 to permit students to voluntarily express religious viewpoints in school assignments free from discrimination and organize prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups and allow for expression of religious viewpoints through dress to the same extent as students are permitted to express viewpoints through nonreligious dress; create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to require each board of education to adopt and implement a policy regarding voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints and to establish a limited public forum for student speakers at all school events at which a student is to publicly speak, including graduation.


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