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Antievolution legislation in Kentucky

Kentucky's House Bill 397 would, if enacted, allow teachers to "use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." HB 397 was introduced in the Kentucky House of Representives on February 8, 2010, and referred to the House Education Committee; the sole sponsor of the bill is Tim Moore (R-District 26).

The text of HB 397, entitled the Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act, is substantially similar to the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which was passed and enacted in 2008, over the protests of the state's scientific and educational communities. A novelty in the Kentucky bill is the phrase "advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories," a variation on the familiar "strengths and weaknesses" and "evidence for and evidence against" rhetoric.

Kentucky is apparently unique in having a statute (PDF; Kentucky Revised Statutes 158.177) that authorizes teachers to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." But it is unclear whether teachers take advantage of the opportunity. The Louisville Courier-Journal (January 11, 2006) reported that in a November 2005 survey of the state's 176 school districts, none was teaching or discussing "intelligent design."


AN ACT relating to science education and intellectual freedom.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

SECTION 1. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 158 IS CREATED TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

(1) Teachers, principals, and other school administrators are encouraged to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories being studied.

(2) After a teacher has taught the content related to scientific theories contained in textbooks and instructional materials included on the approved lists required under KRS 156.433 and 156.435, a teacher may use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

(3) This section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

(4) This section may be cited as the Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act.