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Ohio House Passes a Bill to Open Up Religious Expression in Schools

Photo of the Ohio House chambers
KAREN KASLER
/
OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

A bill that supporters say will allow students to express their religious beliefs in school – and that will relieve districts of fears of lawsuits – has overwhelmingly passed the Republican-dominated Ohio House

The bill requires schools to give the same access to religious groups that secular groups have and would protect students who express religious beliefs via their clothing, jewelry and schoolwork.  But it worries Democratic Rep. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland.

“This provision will add undue burden on our educators, who will be faced with the uncomfortable and difficult situation of having to grade religious beliefs on an academic standard,” Howse said.

Republican Rep. Ron Young of far northeastern Ohio disagreed.

“I think it just gives those kids the religious freedom that they’re looking for, that their parents want, and I think has been shown to be good for this country,” Young said.

The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.