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Sun-Sentinel: "Inspirational Message" Bill to Create Headaches E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Monday, 05 March 2012

South Florida's Sun-Sentinel editorial board laments last week's passage of a bill designed to allow student religious speech at public school activities like mandatory assemblies and sporting events. Specifically, SB 98 requires school districts to permit "inspirational messages" delivered by students during student-led portions of such activities. In an editorial today, the Sun-Sentinel warns that school districts now face the promise of litigation and disruption, all when they have other essential things to manage.

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie worries the bill could complicate life in schools. "Once again, the state is passing some legislation that has nothing to do with improving the quality of the schools," he said.
What school districts must do is make sure that any "inspirational messages" that might be delivered by a student have to be received on a voluntary basis by other students. The bill says that teachers and faculty can have no involvement in this, and it's going to be up to individual schools and districts to be vigilant and make sure only students are involved.

They will also have to be vigilant to be sure students who are members of religious or ethnic minorities are not in any way harassed or subjected to bullying.

Then there is the exciting question of what counts for an "inspirational message" - a problem which on its own could create many hours worth of attorney fees. And, of course, how do school officials manage a situtation in which an atheist student demands to provide inspiration at a school assembly? A Wiccan? A devotee of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Or wishes to "inspire" against the tenets of another student's faith, lifestyle, etc. What then?

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