Education committee hears DFL bill to supporting students’ religious freedom

The Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee heard a bill this week that would allow school districts to consider the school community’s religious observance when adopting an annual school calendar. Proponents of the bill stated that the legislation is designed to prompt school districts to be aware of all religious holidays their students might observe, which is especially relevant given the growing diversity in Minnesota, particularly among the school age population.

The legislation received letters of support and positive testimony from faith leaders of a broad range of traditions. Testifiers shared that what is good for the religious freedom of one religion is good for the religious freedom of all. In addition, the bill also requires a school board to provide annual notice to parents of the school district’s policy relating to a pupil’s absence from school for religious observance. This provision is designed to ensure that information is accessible for families.

The bill was held over for possible inclusion in an education omnibus bill. (SF 966)