Florida legislature guarantees religious liberty in the Sunshine State’s public schools

religiousfreedomThe Christian Family Coalition Florida reports:

MIAMI, Florida — On Friday night May 5th at 9:04 pm, the last day of the regular statewide legislative session, the Florida House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Florida endorsed SB-436, the Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act (FSASPRLA) by a smashing 103-12 margin!

SB-436 is CFC Florida’s top legislative priority for the 2017 statewide legislative session in Tallahassee. CFC Florida was the only organization to publicly endorse, submit testimony, testify, lobby and deploy emails in support of this groundbreaking proposal!

Starting on March 6th CFC Florida speakers were the only ones who showed up to testify and face off in a dramatic hearing against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Florida Humanist Society (FHS) and the National Organization for Women (NOW), before the Senate Education Committee in support of SB-436 resulting in its first committee approval by a 5-2 margin.  We continued to testify at every single committee hearing: Senate Judiciary, House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee and House Education Committee, thus, ensuring its passage.

This historic bill dramatically expands religious liberty in Florida’s public schools in the following way:

  • Requires a school district to adopt a policy that establishes a limited public forum for student speakers at any school event at which a student is to speak publicly.
  • The Florida Department of Education (F.D.E.) must develop and publish on its website a model policy regarding a limited public forum and the voluntary expression of religious viewpoints by students and school personnel in all public schools.
  • The model policy must be adopted and implemented by each district school board.
  • The right is extended to students in public elementary and middle schools.
  • A school district may not prevent school personnel from participating in religious activities on school grounds that are initiated by students at reasonable times before or after the school day if such activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the responsibilities or assignments of such personnel.
  • Requires each district to state in written or oral form that the student’s speech does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the school district. The school district must deliver this disclaimer at all graduation events and any other event at which a student speaks publicly.

Read the full text of SB 436: Religious Expression in Public Schools.

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