GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s Legislature is on the verge of requiring public schools across the state to set aside one to two minutes of silence every morning, adding to the mix of school announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance and roll calls.
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.
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.
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.