The Florida Legislature today passed SB 436, a bill purporting to support religious freedom.
Responding to the bill, ACLU of Florida Legislative Counsel Kara Gross stated:
“The ACLU has a long history of fighting to protect and defend religious freedom and will continue to do so vigorously, but religious freedom does not mean the right to discriminate against others and treat others less humanely.
“The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits public schools from endorsing or encouraging any individual religion in any way. This bill is troublesome because it allows teachers, administrators, and other adults in positions of power, to proselytize and otherwise advance their religious beliefs during the school day. Under this bill, any student or school employee not in the majority religion at that school is in danger of being further isolated, marginalized, and silenced due to activities championed by others in the majority. Additionally, this bill would allow teachers and other school personnel to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of religious expression. Religious education of children is the responsibility of parents and not the public schools.
“The Constitution prevents the government from suppressing groups with minority or unpopular beliefs and values. We fear this legislation, as written, could result in such suppression. Additionally, this bill will almost certainly expose school districts and school personnel to potential litigation.”