Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law this week requiring K-12 schools in the state to observe a moment of silence at the start of each day, allowing for students to meditate or pray before engaging in the day's activities.
"It's something that's important to be able to provide each student the ability, every day, to be able to reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit," the governor said during the bill signing Monday. "The idea that you can just push God out of every institution, and be successful — I'm sorry, our Founding Fathers did not believe that."
The new law requires teachers in Florida public schools to set aside at least one minute during the first period of each school day for silent observation.
Under the legislation, teachers are prohibited from making suggestions as to how students should use the time. Rather, parents are encouraged to discuss the activity with their children and make suggestions.
Moreover, the law is intended to simply give students the space to meditate or pray if they desire.
"The Legislature finds that in today's hectic society too few persons are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the activities of daily life. Young persons are particularly affected by the absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection. The Legislature finds that our youth, and society as a whole, would be well served if students in the public schools were afforded a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day," the law states.
WFLA-TV reported that 14 states already have mandated moments of silence at the start of each school day, while 17 other states permit a daily moment of silence but do not require one.
Florida was previously in the second category. The new law was passed as an amendment to that portion of the legal code.
The bill, which was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Randy Fine, passed easily through both chambers of the state legislature, garnering a 94-24 vote in the House and a 32-6 vote in the Senate.
Even so, a handful of Democratic members have been vocal in their opposition to the bill, blasting the notion that prayer should be promoted in education institutions.
One state lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Lori Berman, reportedly questioned whether students should be able to pull out a rosary, make the sign of the cross, or use a prayer rug during the moment of silence. She wondered if some students' participation might make other students feel uncomfortable.
The moment of silence goes into effect July 1.
DeSantis signs bill requiring "moment of silence" in schoolswww.youtube.com