Florida: Tell Lawmakers to Reject Religious Indoctrination in Public Schools
February 21, 2017
Public school students in Florida need your help!
Legislation that would grant special privileges to religious beliefs in public schools has been introduced by Florida Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville), and Sen. Dennis Baxely (R-Ocala). The sponsors of the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act” (HB 303 and SB 436) claim the measures would protect the religious liberty of students, parents, and teachers. In fact, the proposals would
These religious privilege bills could:
- Allow teachers to promote religious viewpoints to students (for example, telling LGBTQ students they are destined for Hell);
- Allow students to demand teachers grade science papers based on religious ideas as if those claims are as legitimate as those based on science and evidence (for example, that God created all life in its present form 6,000 years ago);
- Undermine efforts to stop the bullying of marginalized students;
- Pollute the teaching of basic science and history with dogma and myth; and
- Sanction school-sponsored and teacher-led prayers and religious meetings.
Rep. Daniels, who also serves as a pastor, made clear her goal when she said, “How can a state fund and have chaplains in prisons and not have chaplains in schools? A child should not have to wait to go to prison to meet a chaplain.”
Federal and Florida law already protect religious freedom for religious students, teachers, and groups in public schools. Students have the right to pray and express their religious beliefs, as long as they do not interrupt educational instruction. They also have the right to form religious and secular groups on an equal basis.
But what religious teachers and students cannot do is mix religious indoctrination into classroom instruction or hamstring teachers from providing a secular education. We cannot allow our secular, pluralistic public school system to become havens for privileging the majority’s faith. The Center for Inquiry urges you to take action on these bills today!
IF YOU LIVE IN FLORIDA: use our pre-written form below to write your state representatives and senators, and tell them to reject HB 303 and SB 436 because they would allow classroom prayer and proselytization and marginalize non-religious students in Florida’s public schools; then follow up with a call to the office of your state representatives and senators reiterating your concerns.
IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE FLORIDA: