Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday, a bill that would allow students to deliver “inspirational messages” at school events, if school boards decided to adopt the policy.
Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando), who sponsored the proposal, (SB 98), said history was made today as the bill returns inspirational messages, including prayer, into all 67 counties’ school boards, after a 50-year absence.
“Its a wonderful, wonderful day in the State of Florida for our youth,” he said. “We teach our kids how to read, write and do arithmetic and we want to make sure that we have a complete student when they graduate. Of course, morality and spriturality is a part of that process.”
As the bill progressed through the Florida Legislature it met with fierce opposition from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League, that argued it violates constitutional protections that separate the church and state.
Asked whether he is concerned there might be legal challenges to the law, Siplin brushed this aside saying, both the House and Senate lawyers agreed that SB 98 is constitutional.
“It’s not a mandate, it’s not a requirement,” Siplin said at a news conference today. “It authorizes a school board to adopt rules allowing the messages, if they want to and once they do, an adult can’t participate in the inspirational messages, only the students.”
Siplin added that there is a Florida Statue that if someone files a lawsuit in a case like this, it will be “considered frivolous and the school board will be allowed attorneys fees.”
“So bring it on and they will be paying attorneys fees to the school board that institutes the policy,” he said.