A Richmond-area senator’s effort to provide students with Bible lessons in public schools has died.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, proposed Senate Bill 132, which would have required the Virginia Board of Education to allow school districts to offer an elective class for high school students on the Old Testament and New Will. Bill, which died last year in the House of Delegates, was killed Thursday by the Senate Education and Health Committee.
The 8-6 vote was with the parties, with Democrats and their new majority voting against the bill.
“Unfortunately, this body tolerates anything but the truth,” Chase said after the vote. “Fifty years ago the Bible was used in public school classrooms for educational purposes. Now we have come so far as a society that this body is rejecting the Bible as an option. May God help us.”
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The bill would have required the state to develop learning standards and curriculum guidelines for courses. He described the courses as introducing students to “biblical content, characters, poetry and stories that are prerequisites for understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, manners, eloquence and public policy”.
Last year, then-Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson, proposed the idea, but it was left to the House Appropriations Committee. Carrico’s bill last year faced opposition from the Baptist General Association of Virginia, which said it did not trust the government to teach the Bible. Carrico did not seek re-election in 2019.
The Senate committee held no discussion Thursday before voting against Chase’s bill.
The panel introduced several Senate-wide bills primarily aimed at improving diversity and inclusion. The invoices included:
- Senate Bill 600 from Senator Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. The bill would repeal General Assembly laws relating to school segregation that are no longer in effect but are still in state law. The bill is the result of a report released in December by the Commission to Examine Racial Inequality in Virginia Law. It was unanimously rejected by the committee.
- Senate Bill 232 by Senator Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax. The bill would require public schools to provide free tampons and sanitary pads in bathrooms to students in grades five through 12. It was also approved unanimously.
- Senate Bill 161, also from Boysko. The bill would require the state Department of Education to create model policies by Dec. 31 regarding the treatment of transgender students. A 10-5 vote, with Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, joining the Democrats, pushed the bill forward.
The bills are expected to be considered by the full Senate next week.