HB 1024 Protections of Prayers in Schools

Provides that a school corporation or charter school shall not discriminate against a student or a student’s parent on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression. Provides that students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Provides that public school students may pray or engage in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression. Provides that students in public schools may wear clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display religious messages or religious symbols in the same manner and to the same extent that other types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display messages or symbols are permitted. Requires a school corporation or charter school to adopt a policy that must include the establishment of a limited public forum for student speakers who wish to include religious content at all school events at which a student is to publicly speak. Provides that the policy shall include requirements that require a school corporation or charter school to state, in writing, orally, or both, that the student’s speech does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the school corporation or charter school. Provides that the policy must include measures to make reasonable accommodations for individuals who wish to be excused from a student’s speech that includes religious content because of the individual’s own religious belief or lack of religious belief. Requires the department of education, in collaboration with the attorney general’s office and organizations with expertise in religious civil liberties, to establish a model policy. Provides that each school corporation may include as an elective in the school corporation’s high school curriculum a course surveying religions of the world. It sounds lovely, but it removes the intentions of a secular public school system to protect students from being singled out for differences and to emphasize the purpose of attending school be focused on the curriculum.