Update on Ohio's antiscience bill

A sponsor of Ohio's House Bill 597, which if enacted would require the state's science standards to "prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another," confirmed that local school districts would be allowed to teach creationism along with evolution and global warming denial alongside climate science.

Andy Thompson (R-District 95), who along with Matt Huffman (R-District 4) introduced HB 597, told the Columbus Dispatch (August 20, 2014), "we want to provide them the flexibility to consider all perspectives, not just on matters of faith or how the Earth came into existence, but also global warming and other topics that are controversial."

The language of the bill troubles those concerned about the integrity of science education in the Buckeye State. Patricia Princehouse, director of Case Western Reserve University's Program in Evolutionary Biology, told the Dispatch, "It sounds exactly like the kind of things intelligent design and creationist promoters say."

As if to confirm Princehouse's judgment, when asked whether "intelligent design" should be taught alongside evolution, Thompson answered, "I think it would be good for them to consider the perspectives of people of faith. That's legitimate." Teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools was found to be unconstitutional in 2005's Kitzmiller v. Dover trial.

As NCSE previously reported, HB 597 is currently with the House Rules and Reference Committee rather than with the House Education Committee. According to the Columbus Dispatch (August 19, 2014), Huffman plans "to vote it out of committee to set up a full House vote soon after the November election."

Hearings on the bill are already taking place, according to the legislative website. Concerned Ohioans are urged to register at NCSE's website to indicate their opposition to the antiscience provision of HB 597, to get help reaching out to their state representatives, and to receive action alerts for attacks on science education in Ohio.