Texas passes bill to let chaplains serve as counselors in schools
Texas lawmakers passed a law that allows unlicensed chaplains to work in schools as school counselors.
The state House passed the law on Wednesday with a vote of 84-60. This will allow districts to decide if they want a non-certified chaplain working in conjunction with counselors and mental healthcare services.
Now that the bill has passed through the Texas Senate, it will be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is expected to sign the bill into law.
The bill allows for schools to hire chaplains or use volunteers “to provide services and programs as assigned by the board or governing body of a school or district.”
The same funds that are used to support other counselors can be used by a school district for chaplains.
The schools have six months in which to decide whether to allow or deny chaplains to enter their school. This act will take effect in the school year 2023-2024.
This is the latest in a series of battles in Texas regarding religion in schools. A bill that would have required the Ten Commandments be displayed in public school classrooms failed on Tuesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU) tweeted: “The same Texas lawmakers trying to control students’ thoughts — by banning textbooks and censoring curricula – now want to dictate to students what they worship.”
“The freedom to choose whether or not to be religious, is a fundamental part of what makes Texans Texans.” They added that #SB763 should be stopped.
Cole Hefner, a state representative (R), defended his bill during the heated debate in the Texas House before it was approved.
Hefner stated, “I find it absurd that some members of this committee would defend certain drag shows and inappropriate material in our school libraries while at the same time claiming [chaplains] in schools are a problem.”
It is expected that if it becomes law, there will be a barrage legal issues. The Supreme Court’s ruling last year that a football coach could pray with his players while on the field has given supporters confidence.