Religious Expression in Public Schools

Information sent to members:

Notice House Education Committee and Senate Floor

People with dinosaurs
Science Educators in public schools may have to
treat religious beliefs as science fact

Phone numbers are listed below, along with sample phone and email scripts.

CALL OR WRITE TODAY

Bill 303 is on the 3/14/2017 agenda in the House Education Committee Committee Office Number (850) 717-4830 
Fl House of Representatives 2017

 

Bill 436 is in the Senate for a third reading on 3/23/2017, having passed out of all the committees. You can find the contact information for your Senator here

Bill 303 and 436 Summary
“Religious Expression in Public Schools; Prohibits school district from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression; requires school district to adopt limited public forum policy & deliver disclaimer at school events; requires DOE to develop & publish model policy; requires district school board to adopt & implement model policy.”

The Bill states: “A student may express his or her religious beliefs in coursework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination. A student’s homework and classroom assignments shall be evaluated, regardless of their religious content, based on expected academic standards relating to the course curriculum and requirements. A student may not be penalized or rewarded based on the religious content of his or her work if the coursework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments require a student’s viewpoint to be expressed.”

According to Florida Citizens for Science
” Even though the bill states students’ work must meet “expected academic standards relating to the course curriculum and requirements,” we’re still worried that this can open the door for unscientific religious views being expressed as a way to challenge the teacher’s authority. We can see an example of this from a Kentucky lawmaker in support of a similar bill there. We certainly don’t mind spirited discussion and respectful debate in the science classroom, but we’re worried that a student (or the student’s parents) could claim that a teacher who tries to further explain the scientific facts in response to the student’s answer is now discriminating against the student.”

It also states: “A school district may not prevent school personnel from participating in religious activities on school grounds  that are initiated by students at reasonable times before or after the school day if such activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the responsibilities or assignments of such personnel.”

Sample call script: (you will get a staff person, so be nice)

“Hi, my name is (your name), and I live in (city), Florida. I am calling in opposition to HB 303 and SB 436. Allowing teachers and staff to participate in student religious groups is in direct violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the constitutions of the United States and Florida. It appears the bill allows students to substitute religious opinions for science facts. Representative Daniels has made clear “The “religious expression” bill is essentially a measure to put “prayer back in school,”. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

Sample email:
“I am writing in opposition to HB 303 and SB 436. Allowing teachers and staff to participate in student religious groups is in direct violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the constitutions of the United States and Florida. It appears the bill allows students to substitute religious opinions for science facts.I am worried that a student (or the student’s parents) could claim that a teacher who tries to further explain the scientific facts in response to the student’s answer is now discriminating against the student.

Representative Daniels has made clear “The “religious expression” bill is essentially a measure to put “prayer back in school,”. 

Thank you for your hard work.”

Bill 436 is on the Senate floor for a third reading on 3/23/2017 – You can find the contact information for your Senator here
Florida Senate Chambers opening day 2017

Bill 303 is on the 3/23/2017 agenda in the House Education Committee
Committee Office Number  (850) 717-4830 

If you want to contact your representative, you can find the contact information here

Education Committee Members with District and Email link
Ahern, Larry [R]     66    Email 
(850) 717-5066

Antone, Bruce [D]     46    Email (850) 717-5046
Asencio, Robert [D]     118    Email (850) 717-5118
Brown, Kamia L. [D]     45    Email 
(850) 717-5045

Diaz, Jr., Manny [R]     103    Email (850) 717-5103
Donalds, Byron [R]     80    Email (850) 717-5080
Latvala, Chris [R]     67    Email 
(850) 717-5067

Lee, Jr., Larry [D]     84    Email (850) 717-5084
Plasencia, Rene “Coach P” [R]     50    Email (850) 717-5050
Ponder, Mel [R]     4    Email (850) 717-5004
Porter, Elizabeth W. [R]     10    Email (850) 717-5010
Raburn, Jake [R]     57    Email (850) 717-5057
Russell, Barrington A. “Barry” [D]     95    Email (850) 717-5095
Stone, Charlie [R]     22    Email (850) 717-5022
Sullivan, Jennifer Mae [R]     31    Email (850) 717-5031
Bileca, Michael [R] Chair    115    Email (850) 717-5115
Cortes, Robert [R] Vice Chair    30    Email (850) 717-5030
Jones, Shevrin [D] D Ranking Member    101    Email (850) 717-5101

Notice House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee

Science Educators in public schools may have to
treat religious beliefs as science fact

Phone numbers are listed below, along with sample phone and email scripts.

CALL OR WRITE TODAY

Bill 303 is on the 3/14/2017 agenda in the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee
Committee Office Number (850) 717-4830 

 
Bill 303 Summary
“Religious Expression in Public Schools; Prohibits school district from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression; requires school district to adopt limited public forum policy & deliver disclaimer at school events; requires DOE to develop & publish model policy; requires district school board to adopt & implement model policy.”

The Bill states: “A student may express his or her religious beliefs in coursework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination. A student’s homework and classroom assignments shall be evaluated, regardless of their religious content, based on expected academic standards relating to the course curriculum and requirements. A student may not be penalized or rewarded based on the religious content of his or her work if the coursework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments require a student’s viewpoint to be expressed.”

According to Florida Citizens for Science
” Even though the bill states students’ work must meet “expected academic standards relating to the course curriculum and requirements,” we’re still worried that this can open the door for unscientific religious views being expressed as a way to challenge the teacher’s authority. We can see an example of this from a Kentucky lawmaker in support of a similar bill there. We certainly don’t mind spirited discussion and respectful debate in the science classroom, but we’re worried that a student (or the student’s parents) could claim that a teacher who tries to further explain the scientific facts in response to the student’s answer is now discriminating against the student.”

It also states: “A school district may not prevent school personnel from participating in religious activities on school grounds  that are initiated by students at reasonable times before or after the school day if such activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the responsibilities or assignments of such personnel.”

People with dinosaurs

Sample call script: (you will get a staff person, so be nice)

“Hi, my name is (your name), and I live in (city), Florida. I am calling in opposition to HB 303. Allowing teachers and staff to participate in student religious groups is in direct violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the constitutions of the United States and Florida. It appears the bill allows students to substitute religious opinions for science facts. Representative Daniels has made clear “The “religious expression” bill is essentially a measure to put “prayer back in school,”. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

Sample email:
“I am writing in opposition to HB 303. Allowing teachers and staff to participate in student religious groups is in direct violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the constitutions of the United States and Florida. It appears the bill allows students to substitute religious opinions for science facts.I am worried that a student (or the student’s parents) could claim that a teacher who tries to further explain the scientific facts in response to the student’s answer is now discriminating against the student.

Representative Daniels has made clear “The “religious expression” bill is essentially a measure to put “prayer back in school,”. 

Thank you for your hard work.”

Bill 303 is on the 3/14/2017 agenda in the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee
Committee Office Number (850) 717-4830 

Committee Members
Chair: Jake Raburn [R] District 57 – Valrico – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5057
Vice Chair: Rene Plasencia [R] District 50 – Titusville – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5050
Democratic Ranking Member: Bruce Antone [D] District 46 – Orlando – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5046
Bryan Avila [R] District 111 – Hialeah – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5111
Kamia Brown [D] District 45 – Ocoee – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5045
Colleen Burton [R] District 40 – Lakeland – Email –  Phone: (850) 717-5040
Tracie Davis [D] District 13 – Jacksonville – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5013
Byron Donalds [R] District 80 – Naples – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5080
Erin Grall [R] District 54 – Vero Beach – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5054
Don Hahnfeldt [R] District 33 – The Villages – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5033
Shevrin Jones [D] District 101 – West Park – Email –  Phone: (850) 717-5101
Mike LaRosa [R] District 42 – St. Cloud – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5042
Bobby Payne [R] District 19 – Palatka – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5019
Rick Roth [R] District 85 – Palm Beach Gardens – Email –  Phone: (850) 717-5085
Matt Willhite [D] District 86 – Royal Palm Beach – Email – Phone: (850) 717-5086 

Notice Judiciary Committee

(Phone numbers are listed below, along with a sample script.)
HELP PREVENT TEACHERS FROM PARTICIPATING
IN RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES WITH STUDENTS.
CALL OR WRITE TODAY
Education committee passed this bill, it is now in the Judiciary committee.

Bill 436 Summary
“Religious Expression in Public Schools; Citing this act as the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act”; Prohibiting a school district from discriminating against students, parents, or school personnel on the basis of religious viewpoints or expression; prohibiting penalty or reward for a student’s religious expression in coursework, artwork, or other specified assignments; requiring a school district to comply with the federal requirements in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, etc.”

The Bill states: “A school district may not prevent school personnel from participating in religious activities on school grounds that are initiated by students at reasonable times before or after the school day if such activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the responsibilities or assignments of such personnel.”

It also states: “A school district may not discriminate against a student, parent, or school personnel on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression. A school district shall treat a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner that the school district treats a student’s voluntary expression of a secular viewpoint.”

In our classroom we pray

Sample call script: (you will get a staff person, so be nice)
“Hi, my name is (your name), and I live in (city), Florida. I am calling in opposition to SB 436. Allowing teachers and staff to participate in student religious groups is in direct violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the constitutions of the United States and Florida. It appears the bill allows students to substitute religious opinions for science facts. Representative Daniels has made clear “The “religious expression” bill is essentially a measure to put “prayer back in school,”. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

Bill 436 is on the 3/6/2017 in the Senate Committee on Judiciary
Committee Office Number (850) 487-5198 
 

Committee Members
Chair: Senator Greg Steube (R)  District 23 – Sarasota – Email – Phone: (941) 342-9162
Vice Chair: Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) District 27 – Fort Myers – Email – Phone: (239) 338-2570
Senator Randolph Bracy (D) District 11 – Ocoee – Email – Phone: (407) 656-6716
Senator Anitere Flores (R) District 39 – Miami – Email – Phone: (305) 222-4117
Senator Rene Garcia (R) District 36 – Hialeah – Email – Phone: (305) 364-3100
Senator Audrey Gibson (D) District 6 – Jacksonville – Email – Phone: (904) 359-2553
Senator Debbie Mayfield (R) District 17 – Melbourne – Email – Phone: (321) 409-2025
Senator Bobby Powell (D) District 30 – West Palm Beach – Email – Phone: (561) 650-6880
Senator Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D) District 33 – Fort Lauderdale – Email – Phone: (954) 321-2705

 

Notice Committee on Education 

CALL TODAY
HELP PREVENT TEACHERS FROM PARTICIPATING 
IN RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES WITH STUDENTS.
(Phone numbers are listed below, along with a sample script.)
In our classroom we pray

Bill 436 Summary
“Religious Expression in Public Schools; Citing this act as the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act”; Prohibiting a school district from discriminating against students, parents, or school personnel on the basis of religious viewpoints or expression; prohibiting penalty or reward for a student’s religious expression in coursework, artwork, or other specified assignments; requiring a school district to comply with the federal requirements in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, etc.”

The Bill states: “A school district may not prevent school personnel from participating in religious activities on school grounds that are initiated by students at reasonable times before or after the school day if such activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the responsibilities or assignments of such personnel.”

Sample call script: (you will get a staff person, so be nice)
“Hi, my name is (your name), and I live in (city), Florida. I am calling in opposition to SB 436. Allowing teachers and staff to participate in student religious groups is in direct violation of the Equal Access Act, as well as the constitutions of the United States and Florida. Representative Daniels has made clear “The “religious expression” bill is essentially a measure to put “prayer back in school,”. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

Bill 436 is on the 3/6/2017 agenda for the Senate Committee on Education.
Committee office phone: (850) 487-5213

Committee Members:
Chair:
 Senator Dorothy L. Hukill (R) (386) 304-7630

Vice Chair: Senator Debbie Mayfield (R) (321) 409-2025

Senator Gary M. Farmer, Jr. (D) (954) 467-4227
Senator Bill Galvano (R) (941) 741-3401
Senator Tom Lee (R) (813) 653-7061
Senator David Simmons (R) (407) 262-7578
Senator Wilton Simpson (R) (352) 540-6074
Senator Linda Stewart (D) (407) 893-2422
Senator Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D) (954) 321-2705