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MN Secular Government Caucus Response to PSEO Lawsuit

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SAINT PAUL, MN - Today, the Minnesota Legislature’s Secular Government Caucus released the following statement in response to a lawsuit challenging a new state law prohibiting religious colleges and universities from requiring faith statements from high school students attending classes to receive PSEO credit. Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) is a state-funded program that allows high school students to earn college credit tuition-free while still in high school. This program has allowed students who otherwise might not be able to afford a full two or four years of post-secondary education to get started early and save money.

“Since its inception, Minnesota’s Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program has grown increasingly popular and is an important resource for many students. Both public and private colleges and universities are eligible to participate in the program, but if they accept state funds to pay tuition costs for high school students, they cannot require those students to sign a faith statement to enroll and attend classes, and they cannot exclude high school students using PSEO funds on the basis of religious beliefs.

The state is not restricting these schools from practicing their religious beliefs in any manner. It is merely prohibiting them from using state PSEO dollars to exclude high school students based on a student's race, creed, ethnicity, disability, gender, or sexual orientation or religious beliefs or affiliations. 

Most of the religiously affiliated colleges that participate in the PSEO program have not excluded PSEO students, and they are not involved in this lawsuit. They recognize that the public funding requires them to treat students equally.

Ironically, the schools bringing this lawsuit are the colleges who have excluded PSEO students based on religion. Their required faith statements have excluded high school students from participating in the publicly funded PSEO program, and they will no longer be allowed to continue. Religious freedom guarantees all people the right to believe and practice any faith or none at all, and institutions participating in this program must abide by that.”

The Secular Government Caucus is made up of members of the House and the Senate and is co-chaired by Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL – Golden Valley) and Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL – Saint Paul) in the House, and Sen. Jen McEwen (DFL – Duluth) and Sen. John Marty (DFL – Roseville) in the Senate.