Students; codifies right to religious viewpoint expression. (SB236)

Introduced By

Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson) with support from co-patrons Del. Tom Garrett (R-Louisa), and Sen. Dick Black (R-Leesburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Student religious viewpoint expression. Codifies the right of students to (i) voluntarily pray or engage in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression; (ii) organize prayer groups, religious clubs, "see you at the pole" gatherings, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other activities and groups; and (iii) wear clothing, accessories, or jewelry that display religious messages or religious symbols in the same manner and to the same extent that other types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry are permitted. The bill also requires each school division to adopt a policy to permit a student speaker to express a religious viewpoint at any school event at which a student is permitted to publicly speak. The policy shall declare each such school event to be a limited public forum, provide a neutral method for the selection of student speakers, and require each school principal to provide a disclaimer in advance of each such school event that the school division does not endorse any religious viewpoint that may be expressed by student speakers. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/03/2014Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/14 14100426D
01/03/2014Referred to Committee on Education and Health
01/08/2014Assigned Education sub: Public Education
01/16/2014Reported from Education and Health (7-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
01/17/2014Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 0-N)
01/20/2014Read second time and engrossed
01/21/2014Read third time and passed Senate (21-Y 17-N)
01/21/2014Reconsideration of passage agreed to by Senate (37-Y 0-N)
01/21/2014Passed Senate (20-Y 18-N)
01/24/2014Placed on Calendar
01/24/2014Read first time
01/24/2014Referred to Committee on Education
02/04/2014Impact statement from DPB (SB236)
02/14/2014Assigned Education sub: Elementary and Secondary Education
02/24/2014Reported from Education (12-Y 10-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2014Read second time
02/26/2014Read third time
02/26/2014Passed House (64-Y 34-N)
02/26/2014VOTE: PASSAGE (64-Y 34-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2014Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB236ER)
03/03/2014Signed by Speaker
03/03/2014Signed by President
04/07/2014G Vetoed by Governor
04/22/2014Placed on Calendar
04/23/2014Senate sustained Governor's veto (22-Y 17-N)
04/23/2014Requires 26 affirmative votes to pass in enrolled form
04/23/2014Motion to reconsider Governor's veto agreed to (39-Y 0-N)
04/23/2014Senate sustained Governor's veto (20-Y 19-N)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 5 clips in all, totaling 1 hour.


Waldo Jaquith writes:

What problem is this solving?

robert legge writes:

Students can do virtually anything in this bill already. This is recreational legislating. Try working on bills that actually do something that is needed.

ACLU-VA Religious Liberty, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this legislation. It invites unconstitutional school sponsored religious speech. The ACLU of Virginia opposes SB 236 because it is unnecessary and may lead to government sponsored religious speech in schools.
Students’ rights to express and practice their faith in the public schools are already well-protected by existing federal and state laws. The First Amendment already protects students’ voluntary ability to pray and express religious viewpoints. The U.S. Constitution, the Virginia Constitution, and federal and state laws already guarantee that Virginia public school students freedom voluntarily to express their views in class, in their homework and on school grounds.