As Louisiana students gather supplies and class schedules for a new school year, administrators are ensuring legally mandated “In God We Trust” signs are hung in every public school building in the state.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill in May 2018 requiring the phrase be displayed in all public schools in the state by the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.
The bill gives school administrators discretion over how the phrase is displayed, but there’s “a minimum requirement of a paper sign.”
The measure also requires students be educated on the history of “In God We Trust” and its status as the national motto.
Shelby Ainsworth, principal of West Monroe High School in West Monroe, Louisiana, praised the bill, telling CNN affiliate WAFB, “I still feel strongly that America is a Christian nation.”
“There are varied opinions even amongst high school students, their parents, the communities, the different churches that are represented, different faiths that we have,” Ainsworth told WAFB. “It’s nothing hidden, it’s nothing swept under the rug, but it’s nothing forced upon anyone.”
Other states require “In God We Trust”
Louisiana isn’t alone in requiring the motto to be displayed in public schools. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem approved similar legislation in her state, which also goes into effect during the 2019-2020 school year.
The South Dakota bill protects schools from legal trouble that may arise from the move. Any schools that face a lawsuit or complaint as a result will be defended by the state attorney general at no cost. If the schools become responsible for legal fees or monetary damages, the state will take those on.
Florida enacted similar legislation in March 2018 when then-Gov. Rick Scott gave his seal of approval.
The Palm Beach Post reported in September 2018 that Palm Beach County school district approved displaying the Florida state seal, which includes the phrase “In God We Trust,” instead of signs bearing the motto, after teachers raised concerns about separation of church and state.
CNN’s Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.