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Oklahoma bill could fine teachers thousands for teaching anything that contradicts religion

Lily Wakefield February 6, 2022
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Oklahoma state senator Rob Standridge

Oklahoma state senator Rob Standridge. (Facebook/ Senator Rob Standridge)

A bill introduced in Oklahoma could personally fine teachers a minimum of $10,000 for teaching children anything that contradicts religion.

The bill, titled the “Students’ Religious Belief Protection Act”, was introduced by Republican Oklahoma state senator Rob Standridge, and will have its first reading on Monday (7 February), when the new legislative session begins.

It would allow parents to take action against teachers who discuss issues that contradict a child’s religious beliefs, meaning that topics like LGBT+ rights, evolution, the Big Bang and birth control could be targeted.

Teachers would be fined “a minimum” of $10,000 “per incident, per individual”. These fines would be paid from the teacher’s “personal resources”, without assistance from any other individuals or groups. If the teacher could not pay, they would lose their job.

In the bill, Standridge insists that it is a response to an “emergency” and that if passed, it would be effective immediately “for the preservation of the public peace”.

The bill is just the latest in a string of attacks on inclusive education by Standridge.

Two more bills, also to be considered this legislative session, were filed by Standridge in December.

The first, Senate Bill 1142, would ban Oklahoma schools from “having or promoting books that address the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, gender identity, or books that contain content of a sexual nature”.

The second, Senate Bill 1141, would ban state colleges and universities from covering “gender, sexual, or racial diversity, equality, or inclusion” in any required core curriculum, and from requiring students to take part in courses outside of the core curriculum that “address any form of gender, sexual, or racial diversity, equality, or inclusion”.

Standridge has previously passed legislation to create a “President Donald J Trump Highway” in Oklahoma, and has also authored a bill to create special “America first” license plates so that “Oklahomans can show their pride in America and the MAGA movement”.

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