Florida House Bill 303 and Senate Bill 436 are absolutely horrific.
In the guise of expanding freedom of religious expression for students in schools, they would open the door for intimidating behavior by one group of children toward other very vulnerable children in a place where those children have and are given, by the bills, no means to avoid such intimidation.
The bills would allow students to set up religious events before, after or during school hours and to advertise those events in the same manner as any other school events, such as word of mouth.
These bills would thus set up situations whereby passionately religious students could approach, cajole, intimidate, possibly threaten and bully more vulnerable children to hear about their religious beliefs and to attend these events.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
These bills provide no restrictions as to how, when or where these ultra-religious students may approach other children, they provide no protections for children who may not want to be accosted, and no protections for the parents of these children who may not want them so accosted.
As a Juvenile Assistant State Attorney for more than 30 years — now retired — I am well aware of what damage children with strong beliefs are capable of doing to other children who are much more vulnerable.
Anyone who does not realize that does not know history and certainly does not know children.
These bills are an outrage and if not significantly modified should never become law.
Leon Botkin, Miami