Religious Bigotry should not be tolerated in any school receiving public funds, directly or indirectly

Do you support adding religion to the nondiscrimination rules in 1000.05 of the Florida statutes?

Do you think the nondiscrimination rules in 1000.05 of the Florida statutes should apply to all schools receiving public funds, directly or indirectly?

HB 741 passed the Education Committee with 17 Yeas and no NOs. But I feel strongly that this bill needs to be amended. Please ask Representative Fine (the bill’s sponsor) to amend HB 741 before it reaches the Judiciary committee of the Florida House of Representatives.

HB 741 will add “religion” to the list in 1000.05 (2)(a). This is how 1000.05(2)(a) reads now:

Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, or in any employment conditions or practices, conducted by a public educational institution that receives or benefits from federal or state financial assistance.

HB 741 needs to be amended in the following ways:

1. Where possible, make the wording broader so it clearly covers all minority religions that have experienced the brunt of religious bigotry

2. Make 1000.05 of the Florida statutes apply to all K-20 schools receiving local, state, or federal financial assistance. Unless I am mistaken, 1000.05 currently only applies to neighborhood and magnet schools. There appears to be a movement within the current legislature to expand vouchers and charter schools. These kinds of rules need to apply to those schools also.

3. As part of the bill, require civility and sensitivity classes for all schools that receive local, state and federal financial assistance.

4. Include the wording from the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) because we don’t want people to use religion as an excuse to harm OTHER people.

The comments and debates during the Education Committee meeting on March 21st made it clear why we need civility and sensitivity classes in all the schools receiving local, state and federal financial assistance. Representative Daniels has a bill before the Congress which (if it passes) would make it a requirement that neighborhood and magnet schools offer an elective class teaching the Bible. Instead of doing that, why not make it mandatory that kids take a class on world religions, civics and civility? It seems to me a course which teaches religion (i.e. the Bible) as a guide post to lead your life should be taught in the religious institutions which could also offer the strength of the religious community.

I made these notes as I was listening to the video of the presentation of HB 741 to the education committee:

Audience member Amy talked about the discrimination she experienced in her life. I interpreted what Amy was saying to indicate the bill needs to include a requirement for a class in sensitivity. The bill also needs to apply to all schools receiving taxpayer money.

A Rabbi from the audience starts around the 2 hour and 9 minute mark. I appreciated the Rabbi mentioning the murders in New Zealand. I felt he was saying that we need to include Islamophobia in addition to antisemitism in the bill. I would add that in addition to specifically mentioning antisemitism and islamophobia, we should also specifically mention anti-atheism.

Rep Massullo mentions that discrimination is partly caused by ignorance. Doesn’t that mean we need to teach classes in sensitivity?

Rep Valdes said she wished we could change hearts. We need sensitivity training! And this bill needs to apply to ALL schools receiving taxpayer money.

Shouldn’t Representative Daniels’ remarks regarding Messianic Judaism indicate another example as to why we need classes in sensitivity? I know many people were outraged when Vice President Pence invited a Messianic Jewish Rabbi to give a prayer after the killings at the synagogue. Here is one quote from an article I read:

The Jewish groups argued that allowing the rabbi, whom they don’t recognize as Jewish, to offer a prayer for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting sowed religious division at a time when Americans should be standing with Jews. A statement from the Rabbinical Assembly, a Conservative Jewish group and one of several to object, declared that “so-called ‘Messianic Judaism’ is not a Jewish movement.