Those living in areas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey are just beginning to rebuild their lives and clean up, and those in the path of Hurricane Irma are just trying to comprehend its devastation. We at Americans United continue to be concerned about everyone recovering from or in the midst of these historic storms and have reached out to many of our members and supporters in these areas to let them know we are thinking of them.
We’ve watched from afar the devastation and tragedy brought by Hurricane Harvey to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Our hearts are with those who are just beginning the recovery process. As difficult as the past week has been, there is some comfort in watching, as we often do, Americans coming together to aid those in the area through donations and volunteering.
Public schools and transgender people have evaded the latest harmful machinations of Texas legislators – for now.
Last week, the Texas Legislature closed out the 30-day special summer session called by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) without passing two bills on Abbott’s agenda that would have threatened religious freedom: a private school voucher bill and an anti-transgender bathroom ban.
The Texas legislature is back in a special session called by Governor Greg Abbott (R) and the Senate has wasted no time passing troubling measures. Last week, the Texas Senate approved two bills that threaten religious freedom – a private school voucher bill and an anti-transgender bathroom ban.
The Texas House of Representatives twice recently defeated the state Senate’s attempt to advance private school voucher legislation.
The Senate, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), first approved a voucher program earlier this year, but the House not only refused to take up the measure, it inserted a provision in its budget bill that would block public funds from being spent on private education.
By a 14-0 vote, the Texas State Board of Education agreed on a public school science curriculum that would allow students to learn science without requiring them to challenge the theory of evolution.
The most recent anti-evolution controversy in the state arose when language that stated students are required to “evaluate all sides” of science was placed in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills science standards earlier this year. Critics argued that this was code for sneaking creationism into Texas public school science classes.
The Texas legislature only meets every other year. So, with the last day of session rapidly approaching, the past few days – yes, even including the weekend – have been wild. The result: A lot of harmful policies are closer to becoming law. Here’s a roundup of the legislature’s troubling actions over past couple of days:
A federal appeals court in March ruled a Texas school board can open its meetings with student-led prayers.
Isaiah Smith, a Birdville Independent School District graduate, and the American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a lawsuit objecting to the Haltom City-based district’s practice of having students open board meetings with invocations that are predominantly Christian and encouraging the audience to participate.
The AHA said Smith felt “isolated and excluded by the school board’s practice of promoting religion in the public sphere.”
San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Ivy Taylor recently shared some disturbing views – blaming systematic poverty on people’s lack of religiosity.
At an April 3 mayoral candidate forum, Megan Legacy, the director of SA Christian Resource Center, asked Taylor “What do you see as the deepest, systemic causes of generational poverty in San Antonio?”