1AP’s 3 Things—Florida Religious Liberties Act (SB 436)
On July 1, Florida’s Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act became law. Here’s what you need to know:
- SB 436 affirms existing First Amendment rights to express faith through clothing and prayer and to form groups. Students may wear religious clothing and jewelry and pray during the school day, subject to dress codes and other rules about secular activities.
- SB 436 passed with bipartisan support. Democrat Patricia Williams was inspired to sponsor the bill after an elementary schooler in her community was told that he could not read the Bible during free reading time. Other sponsors cited incidents of students being sent home for wearing religious jewelry or apparel or being told they could not write papers or create artwork about faith figures.
- Students can’t use SB 436 to avoid their work. Instead, it allows them to express their religious beliefs in coursework, artwork, and assignments that permit student expression.
Students have a well-established constitutional right to express their faith in school settings, but this right is routinely violated by administrators misunderstanding church/state law. SB 436 clarifies the boundaries of students’ constitutional rights.
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