Nonpublic Dignity for All Students Act


Nonpublic Dignity for All Students Act

May 29, 2024

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S3180-A Hoylman-Sigal / A1829-B Jean-Pierre 
Creates the “Nonpublic Dignity for All Students Act”

The above referenced legislation, while eliminating the costly and unnecessary data collection and reporting requirements set forth in the bill’s original version, would nonetheless require the state’s nonpublic schools to decide between violating their own missions, policies, and tenets or closing their doors. The New York State Catholic Conference remains opposed to this bill.

Sections 313 and 3201 of the Education Law and Section 296 of the Executive Law, include within their framework, fundamental protections of religious practice that remain vital to religious communities throughout New York State. When enacting the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA, Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010), lawmakers recognized and respected these protections and therefore limited DASA’s application to public schools. In respecting the well-established independence and religious nature of the state’s private schools, lawmakers went so far as to explicitly exclude such schools from the application of the law by setting forth in Section 17 of the act: “Nothing in this article shall: 1. Apply to private, religious or denominational educational institutions . . .” Lawmakers at the time and in the intervening years since, have consistently recognized that by imposing provisions on religious schools that violate religious tenets, they would be forcing such schools to cease operating, thereby denying thousands of parents the right to elect a religious education for their children.

The sponsors of this legislation, however, appear willing to ignore the deeply held values of the religious communities they are supposed to represent. While we appreciate the sponsors’ efforts to address some of the concerns of nonpublic school leaders in the amended bill, the measure continues to represent a direct and obvious conflict with the aforementioned sections of law. The measure, therefore, remains unacceptable. At a minimum, the measure would permit students to claim discrimination, and even harassment, should a school policy not accommodate their chosen name, pronouns, dress, or use of facilities, and the like.

We encourage the sponsors to continue to work with the religious and independent school leadership to craft a measure to help address bullying while respecting the religious practices of millions of New Yorkers – an outcome we believe possible. In the meantime, the New York State Catholic Conference remains opposed and urges the bill to be held.