(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the "Alabama Student Religious Liberties Act of 2015."
(b) A public local board of education may not discriminate against students or parents on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression. A local board of education shall treat a student's voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner the local board of education treats a student's voluntary expression of a secular or other viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject and may not discriminate against the student based on a religious viewpoint expressed by the student on an otherwise permissible subject.
(c) Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Homework and classroom assignments shall be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the local board of education. Students may not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work. If an assignment requires a student's viewpoint to be expressed in coursework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments, a public school may not penalize or reward a student on the basis of religious content or a religious viewpoint. In such an assignment, a student's academic work that expresses a religious viewpoint shall be evaluated based on ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance to the course curriculum or requirements of the coursework or assignment.
(d)(1) Students in public schools may pray or engage in religious activities or religious expression before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression. Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, "see you at the pole" gatherings, or other religious gatherings before, during, and after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups. Religious groups shall be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other noncurricular groups without discrimination based on the religious content of the students' expression. If student groups that meet for nonreligious activities are permitted to advertise or announce meetings of the groups, the local board of education may not discriminate against groups that meet for prayer or other religious speech. A local board of education may disclaim school sponsorship of noncurricular groups and events in a manner that neither favors nor disfavors groups that meet to engage in prayer or religious speech.
(2) Students in public schools may wear clothing, accessories and jewelry that display religious messages or religious symbols in the same manner and to the same extent that other types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display messages or symbols are permitted.
(e) In order to ensure that a local board of education does not discriminate against a student's publicly stated voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, and to eliminate any actual or perceived affirmative school sponsorship or attribution to the local board of education of a student's expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, each local board of education shall adopt a policy governing voluntary religious expression in its schools.
(f) This section shall not be construed to authorize this state or any of its political subdivisions to do either of the following:
(1) Require any person to participate in prayer or in any other religious activity.
(2) Violate the constitutional rights of any person.
(g) This section shall not be construed to limit the authority of any public school to do any of the following:
(1) Maintain order and discipline on the campus of the public school in a content and viewpoint neutral manner.
(2) Protect the safety of students, employees, and visitors of the public school.
(3) Adopt and enforce policies and procedures regarding student speech at school provided that the policies and procedures do not violate the rights of students as guaranteed by the United States and Alabama Constitutions and laws.
(h) This section shall apply to all religions. It shall not be construed as establishing a particular religion nor as prohibiting the free exercise of a particular religion.
(i) This section shall apply beginning with the 2015-16 school year.
Last modified: May 3, 2021