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Ohio Bill Would Extend Religious Expression Rights During the School Day

photo of Bill Hayes
OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

  A lawmaker says he wants to protect students of all faiths with a bill that would put freedom of religious expression in schools into state law. 

The bill would require schools that allow secular clubs and activities on campus to provide the same opportunities to all student religious groups. And Republican Rep. Bill Hayes of Granville says it would protect students who want to wear religious clothing and jewelry, and use religious expression in homework, artwork and other assignments.

Hayes says he’s worried that some students might be suffering because schools fear lawsuits.

“I feel if it’s going on at all it’s a problem.”

There are protections for religious expression in federal law, but Hayes says this state law would clarify students’ rights.  The bill could go to the House for a vote next week.

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.