An Arlington lawmaker has filed a bill aimed at protecting Texas college professors and students from discrimination because they question evolution.
The measure from Republican state Rep. Bill Zedler would block higher education institutions from discriminating against or penalizing teachers or students based on their research into intelligent design or other theories that disagree with evolution.
Zedler said he filed the bill because of cases in which colleges had been hostile to those who believe that certain features of life-forms are so complex that they must have originated from a higher power.
"We can have the academic freedom to have all kinds of ideas and philosophies but, lo and behold, even mention intelligent design and there are people that want to run you out of town on a rail," Zedler said.
Zedler said fear of workplace discrimination is preventing evolution critics in colleges from speaking their minds.
"I do believe there are people that want to say something but ... they're afraid to because there are people around the country that have been discriminated against," Zedler said.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group that opposes religious influence in public education, described the bill as an effort to push an ideological agenda into colleges by suggesting that intelligent design theorists are subject to persecution.
"It's kind of a broad and cynical strategy to undermine sound science at a time when our state and nation's economy depends on science to thrive," Miller said.
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