pencils_newWritten by Don Byrd

The Florida legislature is not in session until March, but House bill 303/Senate bill 436 has already been referred to committees in both chambers. The legislation claims to protect student (and to some extent faculty) religious expression from discrimination, including in the form of school work or in clothing/jewelry.

As the Ocala StarBanner reports, however, current state and federal law already appears to protect such expression. Furthermore, such a law could create confusion and result in more disputes:

[High school senior] Elizabeth Williams’ mom, Jenny Salpeter, is concerned that the bill could unintentionally embolden the majority faith tradition (usually Christianity) in any given school district. Her family is Jewish, and she’s sensitive to students of any minority faith being put in uncomfortable positions, such as feeling pressured to participate in saying a Christian prayer before a game.

The Baxley-Daniels legislation, while ostensibly designed to clarify and protect the right to religious expression, could lead people to go too far. Her daughter shares the concern, and says the law could introduce conflict where none currently exists.

While the bill sponsors claim the problem they are attempting to address is “pervasive,” the report notes that they “declined to cite specific examples of rights being denied.” Read the whole thing