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Antiscience bill introduced in Virginia

House Bill 207, prefiled in the Virginia House of Delegates on December 27, 2013, and referred to the Committee on Education, is the first antiscience bill of 2014. The sponsor (or "chief patron") of the bill is Richard P. "Dickie" Bell (R-District 20).

The bill calls upon the state board of education and local school boards to "create an environment in public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific controversies in science classes" and to "assist teachers to find effective ways to present scientific controversies in science classes"; they are forbidden to "prohibit any public elementary or secondary school teacher from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in science classes." Presumably attempting to immunize the bill against the accusation that it is religiously motivated, the bill also provides, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to promote or discriminate against any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote or discriminate against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote or discriminate against religion or nonreligion."

No specific supposed scientific controversies are mentioned in the text of the bill, but press reports on the bill, such as WHSV's (January 7, 2013), suggest that Bell was thinking about evolution.