In a bid to defend religious freedom, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed multiple new laws aimed at combatting religious discrimination against any religion, but particularly Judaism.
DeSantis on Monday signed HB 529 which requires public schools to require a moment of silence designated for prayer at the beginning of each school day.
You can see him sign it HERE
Under the new law, the principal of each public school will be required to direct “teachers in first-period classrooms in all grades to set aside 1 to 2 minutes daily for a moment of silence,” a news release from the governor’s office states. “During which students may not interfere with other students’ participation.”
The governor’s added protection for religious expression in schools expands on existing law which only “encourages” a moment of “silent prayer” but does not require it.
Besides holding the minute for prayer, teachers must also “encourage parents to discuss the moment of silence with their children and to make suggestions as to the best use of this time,” the release adds.
However, teachers themselves will be prohibited from making suggestions “as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence.”
Celebrating the legislation, DeSantis said all children should be allowed to practice their faith while attending public school.
“Every family in our state should be able to send their children to school and know that they will be protected from harm and be able to practice their faith,” said the governor.
DeSantis signed HB 529 alongside HB 805 which affirms protections for Holocaust survivors who live in Florida.
The new bill “ensures faith-based volunteer first responder services, like Hatzalah, can operate if the service has operated in Florida for at least 10 years and meets numerous other rigorous conditions,” the governor’s office news release states. “These services are critical for Holocaust survivors who have a fear of uniforms and of being taken away.”
“I’m proud to sign these bills today to help protect religious freedom in Florida and increase the safety and security of our Jewish communities,” DeSantis said. “I will continue to make sure that in Florida we root out anti-Semitism, and that every day we show our support for Israel and our Jewish communities.”
With these laws, Florida is now home to some of the strongest pro-First Amendment laws in the nation, and will hopefully serve as a template for more states to follow.