Conservative lawmakers in Tennessee have sent a piece of legislation to Governor Bill Haslam that will legally allow anti-gay bullying on the basis of religious freedom. The Relgious Viewpoints Antidscrimination Act is a dangerous piece of legislation in which students can use religious arguments to legally protect themselves. The bill states that “a student may express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. A student would not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of the student’s work.” According to The New Civil Rights Movemement, this law means, that a student can write “God” as an answer to a science test that asks where water come from, he or she cannot be penalized.
The bill will also allow students to use the public school system (from classrooms to the PA system) to voice their religious opinions. According to the ACLU:
Should this pass, students with a range of religious beliefs, as well as non-believers, would likely routinely be required to listen to religious messages or participate in religious exercises that conflict with their own beliefs…Conversely, if a student of a minority religious faith (e.g., a Buddhist, a Wiccan, etc.) or a non-believer were to obtain a ‘position of honor,’ as defined under this bill, that student would be permitted to subject all classmates to prayer and proselytizing specific to his or her faith tradition in connection with school events. In both cases, parents would have no recourse to ensure that their children were not coerced into such religious exercise.