The following is The Family Foundation's press statement regarding Governor McAuliffe's veto of SB 236:
Family Foundation Responds to McAuliffe Veto - Bill would protect student free speech -
RICHMOND–The Family Foundation of Virginia today responded to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of SB 236, legislation that would protect the free speech rights of public school students.
“It’s unfortunate that Governor McAuliffe somehow finds middle and high school kids simply talking about their faith threatening,” said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia. “Students in Virginia should not be discriminated against simply for voicing their faith in a graduation speech or during debate class. That’s not tolerance or equality. We hope that common sense will prevail and that the General Assembly will override this veto.”
Based on existing law in two states that have not been challenged in the courts, SB 236, patroned by state Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), would create “limited public forums” at certain public school events. Limited public forums restrict the schools from censoring subject matter simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still “limit” the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech still has to be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith.
The bill also protects students’ rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as “see you at the pole” gatherings and wear clothing with religious expressions.
In recent weeks, more than 2,000 citizens have contacted the Governor’s office through email or phone calls to urge him to sign this important proposal.
“A student in our public schools shouldn’t be treated as a second class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have,” added Cobb. “It is tragic that in the birthplace of religious freedom, Governor McAuliffe has chosen to listen to the ACLU and has trampled on the right of Virginia’s religious students to simply express their beliefs.”