Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 18, 2019

The ACLU of North Dakota opposes House Bill 1538, a bill that would allow the misrepresentation of science in public school classroom.

House Bill 1538 claims to promote “the freedom to teach students the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories and controversies” but does not specifically identify what scientific topics are controversial, though evolution has been wrongly cited as controversial in similar bills in other states.

The ACLU of North Dakota stands with established national and local scientific and educational organizations which unanimously agree that there is no scientific controversy regarding the scientific theory of evolution.

Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of North Dakota, released the following statement:

“House Bill 1538 is the latest line of attack against evolution in a longstanding campaign waged by certain religious interests to promote creationism in the public schools. Under the pretext of fostering academic exploration and critical thinking, this legislation would authorize teachers to present lessons regarding so-called scientific controversies.  

“No one doubts the value and importance of critical thinking to any serious course of scientific study, but legislation like House Bill 1536 is not aimed at developing students’ critical thinking skills. Rather, it seeks to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology by granting legal cover to teachers who wish to dress up religious beliefs regarding evolution and the origin of life as pseudo-science and inject them into their science classes. The best way to instill critical thinking skills in our students is by implementing and following established science curriculum that is already geared toward this very aim and has been written and tested by qualified educational specialists. This effort to inject this false controversy into public school science curriculum will only harm North Dakota students.”

About the ACLU of North Dakota

The ACLU of North Dakota monitors a wide range of issues at the legislature. Our education and lobbying efforts are aimed at informing both lawmakers and the public about the civil rights and civil liberties implications of the bills proposed by our elected officials.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection, and privacy are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBT communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for people of North Dakota.

For up-to-date information on the bills the ACLU of North Dakota is tracking, go to




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