February 5, 2013 9:41:33 AM
JACKSON -- State lawmakers are advancing a measure meant to make it legal for students to pray before public school groups.
House Bill 1112, sponsored by Rep. Mark Formby, a Picayune Republican, was approved unanimously Monday by the House Education Committee.
It suggests naming events including morning announcements, football games and graduations as "limited public forums" choosing students to speak at each. The bill says schools can't punish students who pray, and sponsors say the aim is to promote such prayer.
The bill bans teachers from penalizing students for expressing religious views in schoolwork. It requires allowing students to organize prayer groups and religious clubs and allowing outside religious groups to use school facilities in the same way as nonreligious groups.
The bill goes to the House for more debate.