Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Florida Enacts Student Religious Liberty Law

On June 12, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 436, the Florida Student and
School Personnel Religious Liberties Act (full text) (legislative history). The law becomes effective July 1.  As summarized by the Florida Department of Education:
The bill requires school districts to treat a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject the same as the district treats a secular viewpoint.... The bill also requires districts to allow students to wear religious clothing, accessories and jewelry to the extent secular items with symbols or messages are also allowed.
The bill requires that students be allowed to pray or participate in religious activities or gatherings before, during and after school, to the same extent secular activities or clubs are allowed.... The bill requires school districts to give religious groups the same access to school facilities and ability to announce or advertise meetings as given to secular groups.
Finally, the bill requires all school districts to adopt a policy creating a limited public forum for student speakers at school events where students speak publicly and cannot discriminate against voluntary religious expression by a student on an otherwise permissible subject....