TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Every Florida public school would be required to have a moment of silence of up to two minutes during first period under a bill passed by the Senate.
Under the proposal, which would cover all K-12 public school classrooms, teachers can not recommend what students do with that time but should encourage parents to have that conversation with their children.
The House passed HB 529 last month on a 94-24 vote, and a similar bill is making its way through the Senate. In the House, the 24 opponents included 23 Democrats plus Republican Rep. Linda Chaney of St. Petersburg.
Opponents said the measure promotes prayer in school. Rep. Lori Berman questioned whether students could pull out a rosary, make the sign of the cross or use a prayer rug and wondered if that would make some students uncomfortable.
Fourteen states already mandate moments of silence at the beginning of each school day, and seventeen states allow for one although it isn’t required, according to a legislative staff report on the bill.
Florida is in the second category, with each school board deciding for itself whether a moment of silence is necessary.
The bill amends a Florida statute that already had allowed for “an objective study of the Bible and religion” in public schools.
The bill now goes to Gov. DeSantis’ desk.