Gov. Bryant today signed Senate Bill 2633, the Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act of 2013, into law. The measure protects students from being discriminated against in a public school for expressing their religious viewpoints or engaging in religious activities.
"I appreciate the work of Sen. Chris McDaniel and others for their hard work on this very important legislation aimed at protecting students' abilities to express their faith," Gov. Bryant said.
The act states that voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints in public schools is permitted, that public school districts shall allow religious expression in class assignments and that students will have the freedom to organize religious groups and activities in public schools.
Principal author of the legislation, Sen. Chris McDaniel (R- Ellisville) said, "Due to a misinterpretation of Establishment Clause principles, religious expression has been improperly suppressed by some teachers and administrators. SB 2633 provides much needed guidance on this sensitive issue by detailing what is allowed under the Constitution. Government should not discriminate against or disfavor religious expression. Students do not discard their liberties at the schoolhouse door. The First Amendment is consistent with SB 2633 in that it protects the right of freedom of expression from unnecessary government interference, even if that expression happens to be religious."
The legislation further provides that public school districts shall afford a limited public forum for student speakers at non-graduation and graduation events and requires public school districts to issue a disclaimer at these events clarifying that viewpoints expressed are those of the student and not those of the school or district.
SB 2633: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2013/pdf/history/SB/SB2633.xml