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VOL. 36 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 23, 2012




Bill to let students express religious viewpoint

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NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that would prevent students from being discriminated against for expressing their religious beliefs is headed for a House floor vote after passing a key House committee on Tuesday.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden was approved by the House Education Committee on a voice vote. The companion bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

Holt said he proposed the legislation after talking with a concerned school board member in his district. He said the proposal would allow school districts to develop a so-called "student speaker policy" for school officials to follow.

Holt said he's working with the Tennessee School Boards Association on what options the school districts will have.

Democratic House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said he opposes the legislation because doesn't like mandating what school districts should do in this case.

" I think we've got a pretty good system in place now," Fitzhugh said.

Rep. Richard Montgomery, a Sevierville Republican and chairman of the House Education Committee, said he likes the idea of the bill, but believes it's going to cause an uproar when a student decides to discuss a not-so-popular religion, such as Wicca.

"You might have 1 percent that actually believe that way, and 99 percent don't believe that way," he said. "You're going to have an uproar out of this world in a lot of communities."

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