Bill Allowing Teachers to Question Proven Scientific Theories Introduced in South Dakota

On January 30, 2019, a bill (House Bill 1270) was introduced in the South Dakota legislature that would, if enacted, prevent teachers being “prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught” in accordance with the state’s science education standards. Bills containing similar prohibitions were also introduced in the legislature in 20152016, and 2017, but did not pass.

Science education groups have expressed concern that House Bill 1270 (and other similar bills) will undermine science education by giving teachers greater ability to question proven scientific theories. House Bill 1270 appears to be targeting evolution and climate change. It uses identical language to a 2015 bill that identified “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning” as controversial subjects that “cause debate and disputation.”


On February 20, 2019, the South Dakota House of Representatives Education Committee voted 8-6 to advance House Bill 1270. The bill was subsequently sent to the floor of the state House of Representatives.


On February 25, 2019, the full House of Representatives voted 46-21 to reject House Bill 1270.