A moment of silence bill that already passed in the House is picking up speed in the Senate.
The bill (SB 282) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, its second committee stop, with unanimous support among committee members.
The bill would require a one- to two-minute moment of silence at the start of the school day in public K-12 classrooms.
“I actually do think that a moment of silence can change the day. It’s a noisy world, a noisy place,” bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley said.
During committee, an amendment was added to clarify that teachers should not talk to children about how to use the moment of silence, but instead teachers should encourage parents and guardians to talk to their children about how to use the time. The amendment makes this Senate bill congruent with House companion legislation, which has already passed the floor of that chamber.
Devon Graham, Ph.D. and Florida Assistant State Director of American Atheists, spoke against the bill. Graham said students who choose not to participate could be bullied for doing so.
“There are no guidelines on how to run this moment of silence. There’s no guidance on how sitting quietly for a moment will help them. There’s no guidance on how to opt out. If getting kids to center themselves and prepare for a day is the goal, then let’s actually do something that’s backed by evidence. This bill isn’t,” Graham said.
Current law allows, but does not require, schools to set aside up to two minutes each day or each week to give students the opportunity for prayer or meditation.
The bill now heads to the Senate Rules committee.