State Watch

Florida state Senate OKs bill requiring moment of silence in schools

The Florida Senate passed a measure Thursday that would require public school students to observe a moment of silence at the beginning of the day.

The measure would require school principals to instruct first period teachers to observe a one- to two-minute moment of silence at the start of each day, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Teachers would not be allowed to “make suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence.”

Teachers would also be directed to encourage parents to talk about the moment of silence with students and “to make suggestions as to the best use” of the time, the Sentinel reports.

“It remains very clear in the wording of this bill that parents and guardians are the ones responsible for a discussion with their child about what’s the appropriate content of that time. We don’t want that responsibility on the teacher,” said state Sen. Dennis Baxley (R), who sponsored the bill.

However, opponents of the measure argue that it blurs the line between church and state, the Sentinel notes.

“It would be a good thing if we could all take a moment of silence every day and reflect and meditate a little bit on things that are important to us. However, the framers of our Constitution were very careful to separate church and state,” senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer (D) said, according to the Sentinel.

Fellow Democratic state Sen. Lori Berman expressed concerns that nonreligious students may feel uncomfortable if other students decide to pray around them during the moment of silence.

“I understand that this is a moment of silence, but I also want us all to think about what could happen in a moment of silence,” Berman said. “Could children take out rosaries and start doing the sign of the cross and other children feel uncomfortable? Could a child take out a prayer rug and start using a prayer rug?” 

Tags Florida Florida Public Schools moment of silence Prayer
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