Florida Senate OKs bill requiring school moments of silence

April 22, 2021 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Every Florida public school would be required to have a moment of silence of up to two minutes during first period under a bill passed by the Senate on Thursday.

The bill passed on a 32-6 vote and would amend current law that allows school districts to have a moment of silence for prayer or meditation, but doesn’t require it. The legislation now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We want people to be free in that moment just to stop and reflect,” said Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, the bill’s sponsor. “However you use it, just be still and listen and reflect before you start a day’s activity.”

Opponents said the measure promotes prayer in school. Democratic Rep. Lori Berman questioned whether students could pull out a rosary, make the sign of the cross or use a prayer rug and wondered if that would make some students uncomfortable.

“I was that child. I grew up in Florida and I was one of eight Jewish children in my entire elementary school. And I was often put in uncomfortable situations, and I don’t think it’s right to do,” she said.

All six “no” votes were cast by Democrats, but some spoke in favor it it.

“I can tell you that many teachers over the years would have loved if I was quiet for two minutes, so I’ll be voting for the bill,” said Sen. Jason Pizzo.