TN Senate approves bill giving teachers flexibility on evolution

NASHVILLE, TN (WAFF) - Some Tennessee lawmakers argue teachers need more room to breathe when teaching evolution in public schools.

Monday the Tennessee Senate passed a bill that prohibits the punishment of teachers who allow students to question the theories of evolution or global warming in class.

Supporters of the bill said the debate is about allowing critical thinking. They want students to review, understand and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories, including evolution and global warming.

Opponents said the bill is a cover for teachers who want to tell their students about creationism or intelligent design.

The bill specifically blocks teachers from bringing up their own religious views in the classroom.

Supporters said students have questions when they have learned one thing at home or in church, and then learn something else in school. They said teachers should have the freedom to explain the differences.

Monday's vote sent the bill back to the state House of Representatives, who passed a similar measure a year ago.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said he plans to get input from the state board of education about the measure.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved. WSMV contributed to this report.