West Virginia's former "intelligent design" bill passes the Senate

West Virginia State Capitol.

West Virginia's Senate passed Senate Bill 280, a bill threatening the integrity of science education in the state's public schools, on a 31-2 vote on January 23, 2024.

The bill provides that "[n]o public school board, school superintendent, or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing or answering questions from students about scientific theories of how the universe and/or life came to exist."

But as originally introduced, Senate Bill 280 provided that "[t]eachers in public schools, including public charter schools, that include any one or more of grades kindergarten through 12, may teach intelligent design as a theory of how the universe and/or humanity came to exist."

Despite the revision, the bill's lead sponsor, Amy Grady (R-District 4), declared that the revised bill still would protect the teaching of "intelligent design," according to West Virginia Watch (January 23, 2024).

Her colleague Mike Woelfel (D-District 5) opposed the bill, explaining, "Intelligent design has been shut down as impermissible to teach in public schools. What we're making is some legislative history here before the [the bill] goes to court."

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (January 24, 2023) editorially commented that in passing the bill, "The Republican supermajority controlling the West Virginia Senate struck another blow against education and further proved their own staggering lack of foresight."

Senate Bill 280 is now headed for the House of Representatives, presumably to be referred to the House Education Committee.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.