‘I’m not asking for this to be required. I’m asking for this to be permissible,”’a 16-year-old high school student told lawmakers


Teenagers returned to the Senate on Tuesday to again advocate for teachers’ right to educate students about intelligent design.

“I’m not asking for this to be required. I’m asking for this to be permissible,” said Haden Hodge, a 16-year-old Hurricane High School student. Last year, Hodge asked lawmakers to consider a similar piece of legislation.

Sen. Amy Grady, a public school teacher and chair of the Senate Education Committee, sponsored Senate Bill 280, which prohibits a school board or administrators from prohibiting a “public school classroom teacher from discussing or answering questions from students about scientific theories of how the universe and/or life came to exist.”

The committee signed off on the legislation and it will head to the Senate for a vote.

“We are constantly pushing for inclusion and inclusiveness in our schools … This bill doesn’t exclude anyone,” said Grady, R-Mason.

There is no state law prohibiting the teaching of intelligent design.

Hodge and a classmate, Hunter Bernard, told lawmakers that their science teachers expressed fear of sharing information with students other than evolution.

“Our teachers are scared of what would happen to their careers if they inform us about intelligent design,” said Bernard, who is a junior in high school.

Sen. David Stover, R-Wyoming and a retired science teacher, said he taught intelligent design alongside evolution and other theories in his classroom. He was alarmed to learn some teachers were fearful of including intelligent design in their lesson plans.

“I find that stunning,” Stover said. “I don’t doubt that, but that scares me.”

Hodge noted that intelligent design doesn’t attach itself to a religion, making it different from creationism.

“It could be God or it could be a flying spaghetti monster,” he said.

Sen. Mike Maynard, R-Wayne, questioned if the new version with the language of “scientific theories” would exclude creationism, which has a religious basis.

Hodge responded that he was happy with the current bill’s language because he wants to see a discussion of intelligent design in science classrooms, not religion.

The full Senate last year signed off on a similar bill, but it failed to move out of the House Education Committee.

The American Civil Liberties Union spoke out against last year’s version, arguing that intelligent design was a form of creationism. They said teaching it would violate the Constitution and could result in costly lawsuits against the state.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee also signed off on a bill, SB 152, that would require public schools and higher education institutions to display a sign showing the national motto, In God We Trust. A similar piece of legislation failed last year to make it to the governor’s desk.

** West Virginia Watch is a nonprofit media source. Articles are shared under creative commons license. Please visit https://westvirginiawatch.com/ for more independent Mountain State news coverage.

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