Senate Bill 6087

 

    For your information, this is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Martin Golden and so far cosponsored by me and six other senators. If passed and signed into law by Governor Cuomo, this bill will allow all churches to use school buildings and school sites for religious meetings and worship when school is not in session in New York State. We are working very hard to get more senators to sign onto this bill.


    Yours Truly,


    State Senator Rubén Díaz (SD 32)


    SUMMARY:


    S6087 GOLDEN Same as A 8800 Castro (MS)


    GOLDEN, DIAZ, GALLIVAN, LANZA, LIBOUS, MAZIARZ, SMITH, ZELDIN


    Amd S414, Ed L


    Authorizes the use of school buildings and school sites for religious meetings and worship when not in use for school purposes or when such service or worship is deemed not disruptive of normal school operations.


    ________________________________________


    SPONSORS MEMO:


    NEW YORK STATE SENATE


    INTRODUCER'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT


    submitted in accordance with Senate Rule VI. Sec 1


     


    BILL NUMBER: S6087


     


    SPONSOR: GOLDEN


     


    TITLE OF BILL:


    An act to amend the education law, in relation to authorizing religious


    meetings and worship in school buildings and school sites


     


     


     


    PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:


    The purpose of the bill is to authorize the use of school buildings and


    school sites for religious meetings and worship when not in use for


    school purposes.


     


     


    SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:


    Section 1 amends the opening paragraph and paragraph (c) of subdivision


    1 of section 414 of the education law, the opening paragraph as amended


    by chapter 369 of the laws of 1977 and paragraph (c) as amended by chap-


    ter 345 of the laws of 2009, are amended to include:


     


    The City of New York and community school boards and;


     


    A provision that allows religious meetings to include, but not limited


    to: meetings, services, and worship.


     


     


    JUSTIFICATION:


    This bill would prevent school districts from excluding groups from


    meeting on school property because of the religious content or viewpoint


    of their speech, including allowing religious worship services.


     


    Currently, State Education Law allows for social, civic and recreational


    meetings and entertainment on school property, as well as other uses


    pertaining to the welfare of the community. State law further holds that


    such meetings, entertainment and uses shall be nonexclusive and shall be


    open to the general public. However, certain groups or organizations are


    not always allowed to hold the types of meetings seemingly envisioned


    herein, including those with religious content or viewpoints.


     


    For example, several years ago, a U.S. appeals court ruled that the


    Bronx Household of Faith church ("Bronx Household"), based in New York


    City, was not permitted to use space in a Bronx public middle school for


    its Sunday morning worship service. Since then, however, the United


    States Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club vs. Milford Central School


    that it was unconstitutional for a public school district in upstate New


    York to exclude from its facilities "a private Christian organization


    for children;u and the Supreme Court further held in the Good News Club


    case that "by denying the club access to the school's limited public


    forum on the ground that the club was religious in nature, Milford


    discriminated against the club because of its religious viewpoint in


    violation of the free speech clause.


     


    In light of Milford, Bronx Household re-petitioned the U.S. appeals


    court, which again upheld the school's policy banning the use of its


    space for religious worship services, reasoning that "While the conduct


    of religious services undoubtedly includes expressions of a religious


    point of view, it is not the expression of that point of view that is


    prohibited by the rule. Prayer, religious expression of devotion to God,


    and the singing of hymns, whether done by a person or group, do not


    constitute the conduct of worship services. These activities are not


    excluded.


    Groups like Bronx Household should be allowed to hold and conduct such


    meetings, even in the event that such meetings include religious content


    or views in their speech, so long as these meetings are open to the


    general public. Some school districts have excluded groups and have


    thereby acted to regulate free speech and the conduct of such members of


    the public, potentially in violation of the First Amendment to the


    Constitution of the United States. This bill seeks to protect such


    organizations from these actions.


     


     


    PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:


    (Unknown)


     


     


    FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:


    None to the state.


     


     


    EFFECTIVE DATE:


    This act shall take effect immediately.