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Governor Scott Approves Religious Expression In Schools Bill

Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala)
Florida House of Representatives
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Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala)
Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala)
Credit Florida House of Representatives
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Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala)

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed off on a controversial measure offering additional protections for religious expression in schools.

Governor Scott’s signature directs Florida’s public school districts not to discriminate against students or organizations based on religious expression.  Critics argue the U.S. Constitution already covers that, and Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) says the proposal is misguided.

“Not everyone believes in god,” Gibson says.  “And therein lies the problem.  Because I think the premise of this bill is that that is the case, and that everyone is a Christian—and that’s not the case.”

But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) believes the measure is meant to clear up any confusion

“We owe our educators some clarity on this so it can be applied uniformly across the state,” Baxley says, “and in a way that does respect every faith or no faith.”

Perhaps in a preview of what’s to come, the Palm Beach County school board last week discussed eliminating a policy that allows organizations to place religious banners on school property.  The board made the change after Chaz Stevens, a provocateur known for adding a Festivus pole to holiday displays in the state capitol, requested a banner for the Church of Satanology.

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Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.
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