Action Center

Chaplains Don't Belong in Public Schools!


In states across the country, lawmakers are attempting to pass legislation that would allow chaplains to serve as school counselors without obtaining the necessary training or certification. Installing chaplains in public schools threatens students’ religious freedom and is not a viable solution to addressing the need for increased mental health resources. Urge your state lawmakers to oppose bills that install chaplains in public schools.


In 2023, the Texas state legislature enacted legislation allowing school districts to install chaplains as school counselors and mandating that all local school districts vote on whether to allow chaplains. Following Texas’ lead, Florida passed similar legislation in March 2024. Currently, 13 other states are considering chaplain bills: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah

Allowing chaplains to provide mental health care without licensure risks significant harm to student well-being. School counselors and other support staff must complete professional training and certification to ensure that they can implement school counseling and other programs to deliver services that support students’ academic, career, social, and emotional development. By contrast, chaplains are trained as religious leaders to provide religious services and spiritual care and do not necessarily possess this same academic and professional training. 

Installing chaplains in public schools also violates students’ and families’ religious freedom. Chaplains may engage in proselytization, and students may feel pressured to meet with chaplains whose religious beliefs conflict with their own. School chaplain bills will create unsafe environments for many students, especially religious minorities – including Jews – and LGBTQ+ students who historically face discrimination on the basis of religion. Public school students deserve to learn in secular environment free from religious coercion, but school chaplain bills endanger this right. 

RAC-TX was successful in stopping the implementation of chaplain bills in the 10 districts with the largest Jewish student populations. RAC-TX leaders educated their communities, contacted school board members, and attended school board meetings, resulting in all 10 of their target districts choosing to opt out. This successful campaign demonstrates that we now must all mobilize together to stop these bills.  

All students—regardless of their religion—have the right to receive services free from religious proselytization. Urge your state lawmakers to oppose bills that install chaplains in public schools.

Jewish Values 

The Jewish historical experience as “strangers in a strange land,” often suffering from persecution as a religious minority, informs our support for a separation of religion and state. As members of a religious minority whose history is so dominated by oppression, we are especially sensitive to any effort that aims to weaken the safeguards of pluralism and minority expression. 

For More Information 

For more information, please contact RAC Legislative Assistant Ellen Garfinkle at egarfinkle@rac.org


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