CINCINNATI – An Ohio school district proposal to add creationism to a hot-topics list deemed appropriate for classroom discussion is drawing opposition from some parents and a civil rights group.
The Springboro Board of Education took comments on the proposal at a meeting Thursday night attended by parents, students and teachers. Some parents urged the board to abandon the plan, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter to the board, saying the policy would violate the separation of church and state.
“Basically they would be teaching creationism to counteract the teaching of evolution,” ACLU spokesman Nick Worner said Friday. “Anytime that you promote or teach the beliefs of one religion over all other religions or beliefs in a public school classroom, that’s a problem.”
Board officials did not return messages left Friday seeking comment.
Creationism is the belief that the Earth and its creatures were created by a deity. The theory of evolution says that all living organisms descended from a common ancestral gene pool.
According to the school district website, “evolution/creation,” “pro-life/abortion,” contraception/abstinence, legalization of drugs, gun rights, and global warming would be among the topics added to a list of “controversial issues.”
Many “areas of study involve issues on which differing positions are held by individuals or groups,” and all sides of an issue should be explored “fully and fairly,” the proposal says.
Two years ago, Kelly Kohls, the board’s current president, proposed the district offer creationism as supplemental instruction, but the idea was abandoned after parents objected and the ACLU warned of possible legal action.
Kohls said Thursday of the latest proposal “we want to allow people to talk about it in the classroom,” the Dayton Daily News reported.
In the ACLU letter, Legal Director James Hardiman said the proposal appears to establish the teaching of creationism as an opposing view to evolution, pitting a religious theory against science.
Springboro is about 15 miles south of Dayton in southwest Ohio.
The ACLU recently filed a lawsuit against the Jackson City Schools District in southern Ohio over a Jesus portrait that was displayed in a school there. That district eventually took the portrait down because of concerns about the potential costs of a federal lawsuit against its display.