A new bill proposed by Ohio House Republicans would allow public schools to employ unlicensed chaplains. This is a dangerous attack on the separation of church and state, and it would have a harmful impact on LGBTQ+ students and others.
The bill, HB 240, would allow public schools to "employ or accept as a volunteer a chaplain to provide support, services and programs for students." Unlike other public school personnel, these chaplains would not be required to be licensed by the state. This means that anyone, regardless of their qualifications or beliefs, could be hired as a chaplain in a public school.
This is a recipe for disaster. Unlicensed chaplains could use their position to proselytize to students, or to try to convert them to their own religion. They could also use their position to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students or other students who do not share their beliefs.
The separation of church and state is one of the most important principles of our democracy. It ensures that the government does not favor one religion over another, and that it does not interfere with the free exercise of religion. HB 240 would violate this principle and would create a hostile environment for students of all faiths.
I urge Ohio House Republicans to withdraw HB 240. This bill is a dangerous attack on the separation of church and state, and it would have a harmful impact on our students.
In addition to the concerns raised by LGBTQ+ equality advocates and the Ohio School Counselor Association, there are also concerns that unlicensed chaplains could use unscientific and unproven methods of mental healthcare. This could worsen the student mental health crisis, which is already a serious problem in Ohio.
The Texas legislature passed a similar bill earlier this year, and opponents worry that it will be used as a Trojan horse for religious activists to recruit students. This is a real concern, and it is one that should not be taken lightly.
I urge Ohioans to contact their state representatives and let them know that they oppose HB 240. This bill is a dangerous attack on the separation of church and state, and it must be stopped.
How to call your legislator
Calling your legislators is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make an impact.
To leave a telephone message for your State Representative or State Senator, call 1-800-282-0253. Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
After these hours, you can find the phone number for your State Representative by visiting the website of the House of Representatives at: www.ohiohouse.gov and the phone number for your State Senator by visiting: www.ohiosenate.gov.
For more information on how best to contact your representative, click here: Ohio Statehouse Directory