Ask legislators to amend SB 7030 before the 4-24-19 vote.

This is the definition of the third reading and it looks to me there is a
chance for amendments: “Debate on final passage occurs; a two-thirds vote is required to amend at this stage.”

Please ask the legislators to amend SB 7030 so that the taxpayers are NOT giving the charter schools extra taxpayer money to arm their teachers. And please make sure the taxpayers will not be liable for accidents if a charter school decides to arm their teachers. SB 7030 gives the charter schools the option of arming their teachers BUT the taxpayer should not be forced to fund that decision.

Funding for school safety should not be limited to armed personnel. The school district should have more flexibility in deciding how to use funds to secure their schools. Please advocate for amending SB 7030 to allow the school districts to spend the money however they choose to reduce risks.

The GOP dominated legislature wants  the school districts to have the option of letting teachers bring guns into their classrooms. Most school districts are going to choose NOT to let teachers carry guns while they are teaching. Please amend SB 7030 to delete the language that says that the appropriated funding must be used exclusively for weapons to be brought into the classroom.

Panic buttons or metal detectors might be a better use of the funds. Please let each school district decide how to use the money.

guns in schools

Lines 234 to 238 of SB 7030 currently reads as follows:

c. The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian

Please ask the legislators to amend SB 7030 so that the taxpayers are NOT giving the charter schools extra taxpayer money to arm their teachers.

On another note, the per student funding that the legislators are giving to charter schools and private schools should not be more than 70% of what the neighborhood schools get. Neighborhood schools act as hurricane shelters, adult schools, parks for the neighborhood, etc. Plus my belief is that most parents want their kids to go to a school close to their home. Please make all the neighborhood schools GREAT before you subsidize the private schools with my taxpayer money. Also please make all the anti-bullying and anti-discrimination rules that apply to the neighborhood schools also apply to the charter and private schools receiving voucher money.

Letter to Aaron Bean about using our taxpayer money to bring guns into the classrooms

April 18, 2019

Senator Aaron Bean
405 Senate Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

Honorable Senator Bean,

Funding for school safety should not be limited to armed personnel.  The school district should have more flexibility in deciding how to use funds to secure their schools.  Please advocate for amending SB 7030 to allow the school districts to spend the money however they choose to reduce risks.

My understanding is that YOU want the school districts to have the option of letting teachers bring guns into their classrooms. Most school districts are going to choose NOT to let teachers carry guns while they are teaching.  Please amend SB 7030 to delete the language that implies that the appropriated funding must be used exclusively for weapons to be brought into the classroom.

Panic buttons or metal detectors might be a better use of the funds. Please let each school district
decide how to use the money.

guns in schools

Lines 234 to 238 of SB 7030 currently reads as follows:

The sheriff conducting the training pursuant to subparagraph 2. will be reimbursed for training-related costs and for providing a one-time stipend of $500 to each school guardian

Charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money should make do with whatever per student funding that the legislators have already allocated to them.  And it should not be more than 70% of what the neighborhood schools get.   Neighborhood schools act as hurricane shelters, adult schools, parks for the neighborhood, etc.  Plus my belief is that most parents want their kids to go to a school close to their home. Please make all the neighborhood schools GREAT before you subsidize the private schools with my taxpayer money.

How is a Legislator Supposed to Vote When a Bill Isn’t Perfect?

Some Florida Senators and Representatives voted no on bills banning fracking because the bills didn’t ban all fracking. Environmentalists felt the omission was intentional and encouraged legislators to vote no on any bill that didn’t ban ALL fracking. SB 314 is the good law. Whereas SB 7064 fails to include a ban on matrix acidizing that threatens Florida’s sources of potable water.

I listened to a committee meeting discussing SB 588 designed to take away home rule regarding the banning of plastic straws. GOP legislators introduced a bill to prevent a county from banning plastic straws and then added wording to the bill about generators at gas stations. Why did they do that? If a legislator didn’t like the preemption bill concerning plastic straws, then would the legislator be forced to also vote no on the part of the bill that would keep gas stations open during a hurricane evacuation?

What is a representative to do IF a bill isn’t perfect?

Senator Gibson’s quote from this article:

I am a champion for all people, all races and all religions. And there’s a lot of misinformation and seemingly deliberate efforts to try to paint me as someone I am not.

Senator Gibson had asked that a bill (mentioned in the article) be more broad in terms. She wondered if singling out one religion might have unintended unwanted consequences to the group being singled out.  I also feel it would be better if Representative Fine used the following wording (instead of the wording in lines 61 to 78 of HB 741 that he used):

Bigoted language includes: calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion, race or gender; making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion, race or gender; denying a well documented atrocity.

The above wording was copied in part from Representative Fine’s bill EXCEPT he made the wording specific to ONE minority religion. I rephrased his wording so that bigoted language was defined more broadly.

I also have other issues with Representative Fine’s bill HB 741. Why doesn’t SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) drafted by Representative Fine apply to ALL schools receiving public monies either directly or indirectly? It only applies to the neighborhood schools and the magnet schools. Why didn’t Representative Fine want the bill to apply to charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money?

Another thing causing me to worry about Representative Fine’s bill (as it was worded when Senator Gibson voted no on the bill) is that adding religion to 1000.05 of the Florida Statutes might allow the evangelical dominionists to have more power to use religion as a sword to harm others.

We need the wording of the Do No Harm Act whenever we’re adding religious protection so the law can be used as a shield against discrimination and not a sword to harm others. RFRA taught us that sometimes people use what was meant to be good legislation in a way that harms others. Whenever religious freedom is added to the laws, the following wording should also be added:

This religious freedom law should not be interpreted to authorize someone to cause harm to another.

HB 741 adds religion to 1000.05 of the Florida Statute. Here is how the statute (before adding religion) reads now:

1000.05(2)(a)Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, ….

I am not saying that HB 741 doesn’t have the potential to be a good bill. It merely needs to make the wording broader with the goal of preventing bullying of people based on religion, race,  gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or marital status.

More information about the rise of bullying based on religion, race and gender:

https://www.adl.org/take-action

The current legislature and governor are diverting more and more taxpayer money to charters and private school vouchers. Why aren’t these anti-discrimination and anti-bullying laws applying to those schools?

 

Does bigoted language increase feelings of hate? Are feelings of hate growing in our country?

A few quotes from an article (Bigotry and the English Language by TA-NEHISI COATES) that explores the definition of bigotry:

Wes Alwan’s definition of a bigot as someone who is wholly unpersuadable, wholly without conflict, and wholly without doubt, is a description of a myth. … Wes Alwan’s understanding of the word “bigot” is ignorant of the word’s current usage, especially its usage by those most affected by bigotry.

Link to the article:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/bigotry-and-the-english-language/281935/

This is a good time to point out that taxpayers are funding charters and private schools that do not need to follow the rules of the neighborhood schools. How horrible will we feel if a charter school or a school receiving voucher money turns out to be some sort of white nationalist propaganda mill? There is no reason SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) shouldn’t apply to any school receiving public money, either directly or indirectly.

SB 1272 and HB 741 lay out the words of antisemitism. As Coates says in that Atlantic article, words trigger feelings of discrimination. Those not within that minority group may NOT understand how hurtful certain words might feel. When bigoted people use certain words they are signaling those other bigoted people within their bigoted group. I think that is the reason that Representative Fine goes into such detail as to what words signal antisemitism in his bill HB 741. Experts in drafting laws and in Jewish history and current affairs should consider that the law would be more effective if it was drafted in broader terms rather than specific terms. For example, instead of specific language, what about substituting lines 61 to 78 of HB 741 with these broader terms as to what constitutes bigoted language:

(a)
1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion, race or gender.
2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion, race or gender.
3. Accusing a group of similar people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single person from that group.
4. Denying the Holocaust. [Perhaps the narrative could be specific as to exactly what happened during the Holocaust.]
5. Accusing a citizen of being more loyal to another country just because another person of similar ethnicity or religion has demonstrated that proclivity.

Link to the bill:
https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0741c2.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0741&Session=2019

Please write your representatives and ask that SB 1272 (HB 741–the companion bill) be amended. Racial, gender or religious bigotry should NOT be tolerated in any school receiving public funds, either directly or indirectly. The language of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should be included because we want freedom of religion laws to be used as a shield against discrimination and not as a sword to harm others. Require that civility classes be taught. Prevention and education are the keys to reduce bigotry.

Link to information about the Do No Harm Act:
http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/do-no-harm-act

In addition to describing bigoted language, SB 1272 (HB 741-the companion bill) wants to add religion to this statute. Here is how the statute (before adding religion) reads:

1000.05 (2)(a) Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, ..

SB 1272 goes before the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on April 8th. Jacksonville Florida Senator Audrey Gibson is on that committee. Please write to the Honorable Audrey Gibson about this issue before April 8th. Feel free to use any of the points I used in my email to the Florida Senator:

To: gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov

Honorable Audrey Gibson,

SB 1272 is on the agenda for the Judiciary committee for April 8th at 4 pm. The bill addresses antisemitism and adds religion to Florida statute 1000.05. PLEASE ask for these amendments to be added to the bill before voting yes:

1. SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) should amend 1000.05 of the Florida statutes so that the statute applies to any school receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. Religious, racial or gender bigotry should NOT be tolerated in any school receiving public money, directly or indirectly. How horrible will we feel if a charter school or a school receiving voucher money turns out to be some sort of white nationalist propaganda mill? Now is the time to make sure that 1000.05 covers all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

2. In addition to specifically mentioning antisemitism, please also mention anti-atheism and other minority groups that have felt the brunt of religious bigotry.

3. The bill should include a requirement that civility and sensitivity classes be taught in all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. All school children should learn that religious, racial and gender bigotry isn’t polite. The idea is to address hatred, yes?

4. The language of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should be included. Our First Amendment religious clauses and other religious protection laws should be a shield of protection from discrimination not a sword to do harm to others.

The comments during the House Education and the House Judiciary committee meetings (discussing HB 741) made it clear why we need civility and sensitivity classes in all the schools. People testified in those committee meetings about the discrimination they or their friends have experienced in life.

I am worried that adding religion to the Florida statutes (without safeguards) might cause unintentional consequences (similar to what happened with RFRA). Americans United for Separation of Church and State as well as the ACLU supported RFRA decades ago. They did not predict how it would be used to harm others. They are now promoting the Do No Harm Act to fix the problems caused by RFRA. In my view, the wording of the Do No Harm Act should be included wherever religion is given special protection in state or federal laws. Our First Amendment religious clauses and other religious protection laws should be a shield of protection against discrimination not a sword to do harm to others.

Sincerely yours,
Concerned Jacksonville citizen

Indivisible Mandarin meets with John Rutherford

IM Members Met with US Rep. John Rutherford
Written by Ken Organes

On Thursday, March 21st members of Indivisible Mandarin attended a meeting at Representative John Rutherford’s office.

The meeting was generally cordial and featured some mutual agreement and also sharp, but polite, differences on women’s health issues and gun legislation.

Ken Organes opened the meeting by expressing thanks, on behalf of Indivisible Mandarin, for agreeing to meet with us and allow us to express our views. Ken spoke briefly about the plight of the farmers who are experiencing severe flooding in the Midwest and asked whether there was pending legislation to help them. Rep. Rutherford said that there was legislation in the works and that he would support it.

Karen introduced Indivisible Mandarin and spoke about our organization and its goals. She emphasized that we were there to open a dialogue and that, only through open, polite discourse, could progress be made. The representative agreed.

Larry Zwain thanked him for sponsoring a bill that helps to transition veterans back into civilian life, citing his son’s experience with PTSD. Larry then spoke about renewable energy and other environmental issues. Rep. Rutherford replied that he, too, is concerned about environmental issues and is co-sponsor on a bill that would forbid seismic petroleum exploration and drilling off the coast of Florida. He said that climate change and sea level rise are real and must be addressed but he’s not convinced that they’re caused by human activity.

He was amenable to considering Ted Centerwall’s proposal of an amendment to a bill advocating increased penalties for wounding or killing a police officer, that would stiffen the sentence if the weapon had not gone through a background check.

Rep. Rutherford said he is in favor of universal background checks but refused to consider any additional gun legislation. He said that he considers the Second Amendment to be the foundation of all other amendments to the Constitution. Marion Tischler, Karen Adler, Larry Zwain and others asked him about bans on assault weapons, registration of firearms and other potential gun legislation but he remained adamantly opposed.

He and Marion Tischler disagreed sharply, but politely, when the conversation turned to women’s access to healthcare including abortion. Marion took special exception with his depiction of abortions where the fetus was non-viable and terribly compromised as “infanticide.” Marion was supported in her position by Karen Adler, Dr. Philip Adler and others.

Dr. Sudhir Prabhu spoke on the negative effect of unfettered campaign finance money on our electoral process, and how it is shaping legislation. Dr. Prabhu stated that this is causing average Americans to be frustrated and feel left out of the process. Rep. Rutherford said that he agreed to some extent.

There are obviously deep philosophical differences between Rep. Rutherford and the members of Indivisible Mandarin. That being said, the main purpose of the meeting was to begin a dialog with the congressman, to express our views frankly and to open a line of communication. To that extend, the meeting was a success.

Members Show-APRIL 5-28, 2019

We joined the St Augustine Art Association. All members get to put one of their pieces in the gallery for the month of April beginning April 5th. Please join us for first Friday art walk in St. Augustine on April 5th. We’ll be hanging out at the St. Augustine Art Association.

Spring Members Show
APRIL 5-28, 2019
An exhibit of works in varied styles, media and subjects created by members of STAAA.
Opening Reception during First Friday Art Walk, April 5, 5-9pm
STAAA members only may submit artwork

More information at this link

I see the need for sensitivity and civility training

HB 741 should provide for funding and require that sensitivity and civility classes be taught in all schools. If you don’t have a solution, why pass a bill?

Video of the March 21st Florida House of Representatives Education Committee meeting:
https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2019031312

Below are some comments made by legislators at the meeting discussing HB 741 that indicate we need civility and sensitivity courses taught in all the schools.  Around the 2 hour 6 minute mark in the video, Representative Fine answers a question with words similar to this:

“I don’t know the answer. The bill doesn’t regulate how the issue will be addressed in the schools.”

Later in the meeting, Representative Massullo mentions that discrimination is partly caused by ignorance. Representative Valdes says that she wishes we could change hearts. Representative Daniels mentioned Messianic Judaism.  Keep in mind that this bill is trying to address the problem that Representative Fine describes as a growing fever of antisemitism. Shouldn’t Representative Daniels’ remarks regarding Messianic Judaism indicate another example as to why we need classes in sensitivity? I know many people were outraged when Vice President Pence invited a Messianic Jewish Rabbi to give a prayer after the killings at the synagogue. Here is one quote from this article:

https://religionnews.com/2018/10/31/jewish-groups-decry-messianic-jewish-rabbis-prayer-at-pence-rally

The Jewish groups argued that allowing the rabbi, whom they don’t recognize as Jewish, to offer a prayer for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting sowed religious division at a time when Americans should be standing with Jews.
A statement from the Rabbinical Assembly, a Conservative Jewish group and one of several to object, declared that “so-called ‘Messianic Judaism’ is not a Jewish movement.

In addition to requiring classes in sensitivity, I also wish they’d include the wording of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) in the bill. Any mention of religious protection should offer a shield against religious bigotry not a sword to attack others.

I do not understand the problem or know the solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  I know that some people (including Representative Fine) see the need for this to be included in HB 741:

(b) Examples of anti-Semitism related to Israel include: Delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist.

In addition to antisemitism, I wish Islamophobia and anti-atheism were specifically mentioned in the bill. There are examples of anti-atheism in this country and the world.  Here is how lines 51 to 54 of HB 741 reads now:

A public K-20 educational institution must treat discrimination by students or employees or resulting from institutional policies based on anti-Semitism in an identical manner to discrimination based on race.

There are many groups worried about legislation before our Florida Congress trying to expand taxpayer money to fund unregulated charter and private schools. As it stands now, this bill won’t cover those schools. In my view and in the view of many others, this is a BIG problem. IF religious bigotry is a problem and we’re trying to solve it, then a bill should not only apply to the neighborhood schools, it should also apply to any school receiving local, state, or federal taxpayer money.

Only 24% of the registered voters voted

Only 24% of the registered voters voted in the election — in Duval County –that ended March 19th.  Why so few?

Is it because news sources aren’t giving us enough information so that we’re uncomfortable voting?  Here is a funny skit about that:

Or is it because people feel the majority always wins so why bother?  If that is the reason then would proportional representation help? 
Quote from https://www.fairvote.org/how_proportional_representation_elections_work:

Proportional representation systems have the goal of ensuring that more voters receive some representation. Various systems have different ways of achieving these goals.

Why not elect the 5 city council at large seats via a proportional representation system? For example, what about the following? 

1.  10 candidates –with the most votes– win the unitary election for the at-large city council seats
2.  Those 10 candidates run in the general election.  The 5 candidates with the most votes would then serve as at-large city council representatives.

How do you think it would change if we got proportional representation? As it works now the majority get to pick all five at-large candidates.  In the election that ended March 19, the starred ones (in the below list) got the most votes in each individual election race and (even though some face run offs) will probably be our at-large representatives:

 **Lisa King , **Darren Mason,  **Tommy Hazouri,  **Matt Carlucci,  **Samuel Newby, Gary Barrett,  Connell A. Crooms, Jack Daniels, Terrance Freeman, Ron Salem, James C. Jacobs,Greg Rachal,Harold McCart, Don Redman, Niki Brunson, Chad Evan McIntyre.

I like the simple system that I stated above. I think single transferable vote is too complicated and doesn’t lend itself to easy auditing or recounts. Quote from this  LINK to the wikipedia page about STV:

The single transferable vote (STV)is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through ranked voting in multi-seat organizations voting districts.

I went to a Socrates Cafe on March 20th and we discussed voting.  The participants didn’t convince me that ranked voting for a single position made sense. This link   https://www.fairvote.org/how_proportional_representation_elections_work offers a lot of options but they seem too complicated to me and I don’t see how they’ll solve the problem if there is still only ONE person to be chosen.

This Vox article talks about ranked choice voting.  The advantage they point out is that the advertisements are less negative. Here is a quote from another ARTICLE from Vox explaining why they like San Francisco’s  ranked choice system:

To “game” the system in a simple plurality-winner election, the basic strategy involves mobilizing your base while trying to tear down competing candidates. This involves lots of scorched-earth negative campaigning. To “game” the system in a ranked-choice voting election, the basic strategy is to try to appeal broadly and say, I’d like to be your first choice, but if I can’t be your first choice, I’d like to be your second choice. In ranked-choice voting, we’d expect soft alliances among candidates who realize that they’re both stronger through coalition building than they are by law-of-the-jungle campaigning

 
http://www.voteguy.com/rcv-academic/ is a link to a wonky examination of ranked choice voting. This white paper was mentioned in the Vox article.

Yea…less negative ads is appealing BUT if candidates can be nice then why won’t they do it no matter what kind of voting system we use? I worry about making the voting too complicated. According to this article Duval votes were lost due to voters completing their ballots incorrectly. My view is that we don’t need to make it more complicated.

Quote from this ARTICLE

… we know that voters often skip reading instructions. … people rush to mark their votes … Americans, including New Yorkers and Floridians, want their votes to count. Let’s help them do that with well-designed ballots that don’t create confusion, or worse — change the results of an election.

I think we need to trust our voting machines before we make voting more complicated. Quote from this article:

It is also important to ensure the scans are accurate by checking a good sample against the original paper ballots.

Quote from this article:

Florida law requires a sample of ballots to be hand-audited after each election to ensure accuracy.

https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/voting-systems/certified-voting-systems-and-vendors/

Home Rule

I am VERY worried about all the preemption laws in the current state legislature.

Miami Beach saw problems with earlier preemption laws when it tried to raise its minimum wage. Cities across the state are trying to close the gun show loophole to keep guns away from people unable to pass background checks but city council members and commissioners are fearing the consequence of another older preemption law.

Cities across the state are trying to find ways to pay for the maintenance of the public buildings (libraries, neighborhood schools, etc) so as to enhance the beauty of our communities. What impact will SB 144 have on the cities’ ability to fund projects to deal with ever growing populations?

How do we stop the preemption laws in the current legislative session? I urge people to see if their legislator is voting yes on these laws aiming to take away home rule. Know what your legislator is doing BEFORE you re-elect him/her.

Quote from an article I found at the Florida League of Cities website written by Karson Turner/ Florida Association of Counties (FAC) President and a Hendry County Commissioner:

“Proposed House Bills (HB) 3 and 5 are a reckless assault on towns and taxpayers. Tallahassee politicians don’t just want to take away a town’s right to set its own laws, they also want to reserve the right to erase laws a town has already written”.

Quote from ​article titled ​”​Legislature reaches too far down, again​” in the Daily Commercial by the The Ledger (Lakeland)​ Posted Mar 15, 2019​:

“Lawmakers this year are pursuing a number of “preemption” bills whereby state legislators are wanting to decide how Florida counties and cities will govern themselves.​ People in Polk County, for example, may disagree with bans on plastic straws or local mandates on hiring practices for certain minority groups. But that doesn’t mean Miami, Fort Myers or Orlando should be blocked from enacting such rules if they want them.”

Quote from the Florida league of cities .com /advocacy/legislative-bill-summaries:

CS/CS/HB 3 was amended but the definitions included in the bill are still quite broad.

Our state legislature needs to pass laws to protect our water and air. Some might consider those preemption laws. However if one city pollutes the water supply, then that will affect the other cities. The Florida League of Cities opposed SB 1716 (Bracy) and HB 157 but the 1000 Friends of Florida supports it.

Please advocate to allow cities to pass their own minimum wage laws, their own protections for their vulnerable citizens, their own decision to ban plastic straws, and laws requiring more restrictions (than what the state decides) aimed at reducing gun violence.

Links:
http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/2019-florida-legislative-session/

https://www.floridaleagueofcities.com/advocacy/legislative-bill-summaries

 

How do we reduce hate?

No tax money should be going to schools tolerating religious bigotry. HB 741 should apply to all schools receiving local, state and federal financial assistance.

HB 741 adds religion to the list in 1000.05 of the Florida statutes.

Please tell the sponsors of the bill to quit imposing regulations on public schools when they aren’t willing to apply the same rules to other schools receiving taxpayer money. IF the bill is a good one, then it should apply to all schools receiving taxpayer assistance. IF it isn’t a good rule, then why should it be imposed on the public schools?

Some people call others “snowflakes” when the so-called snowflake asks people not to use racial slurs or religiously bigoted terms. The legislature is considering a bill (SB 1410) that will give voucher money to anyone claiming to have been bullied. But what happens to the bully and the other kids left in the school with the bully? We need to teach kids NOT to bully whether in the public, charter or private schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

HB 741 should allocate funding to teach civility and sensitivity so kids learn not to bully and not to be insensitive to others.

I know some viewed the Convington Catholic private school boys in DC and perhaps even the Kavanaugh hearings differently than I did. BUT what I saw was several insensitive white boys. They need civility and sensitivity training as much as anyone in the public school. Did you see the part of the video where the boys *pulled* one of the two black kids to the front of the crowd to show the Black Hebrew Israelites that they had people of color in their group? Did you see the video where the one catholic private school boy said “it’s not rape if you enjoy it”? I am not saying this to condemn them. I have said stupid insensitive stuff in my life also. What I am saying is that we ALL need civility and sensitivity training.

I think it is a good idea to add religion to the list in 1000.05 of the Florida statutes. However, I think HB 741 should be amended in the following ways before it continues to the various committees in Florida’s Congress:

1. HB 741 (and 1000.05 of the Florida statutes) should apply to any school receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

2. If it is going to point out antisemitism then it should also mention Islamophobia and anti-atheism and perhaps other minority religious groups that have felt the brunt of religious bigotry.

3. It should include funding and requirements that civility and sensitivity classes be taught in all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. The class must be taught by someone certified in sensitivity training.

4. The bill should have pro-active prevention and course correction ideas MORE than punishment.

5. None of the language in HB 741 should imply that one can’t make valid criticisms of a religion. The goal should NOT be to curtail freedom of speech in such a way that valid criticisms can’t be expressed in a civil and productive manner. The spirit of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should also be included because we don’t want freedom of religion to be used as a sword to harm others.

6. Where possible the language of what religious bigotry means should be worded in broader terms. For example re-word lines 51 to 77 of the original version of HB 741 to read

(7) A K-20 educational institution that has received local, state or federal financial assistance must treat religious discrimination by students or employees in an identical manner to discrimination based on race. For purposes of this section, the term religious discrimination includes expressions of hatred toward the religious minority, rhetorical and physical manifestations of that bigotry directed toward a person, his or her property, or toward the community institutions or religious facilities.

(a) Examples of religious bigotry include:

1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion.

2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion.

3. Accusing a group of similar people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single person from that group.

4. Denying the Holocaust. Perhaps the narrative could be specific as to exactly what happened during the Holocaust.

5. Accusing a citizen of being more loyal to another country just because another person of similar ethnicity or religion has demonstrated that proclivity.

The focus of the bill should be to reduce and maybe eliminate bullying and religiously bigoted language. All school children should learn that religious bigotry isn’t polite. The idea is to address hatred based on religion, yes? With the recent shootings at the synagogue and the mosque, we continue to wonder what we can do to prevent these tragedies. Can we teach people not to hate? Shouldn’t we try? Discrimination against atheists is also part of religious bigotry.

It shouldn’t be about punishment. It should be about course correction. That is why it is vital that the bill provide funding for a required course which will teach sensitivity and civility. The course should be required to be taught every year in any school receiving local, state or federal assistance. The teacher of the civility course should be certified in the field of civility and their salaries should be paid from the state treasury.

1000.05 and bill HB 741 should cover charter schools and private schools that receive voucher money.   HB 741 will add “religion” to the list in 1000.05 (2)(a). This is how 1000.05(2)(a) reads now:

1000.05 (2)(a) Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, or in any employment conditions or practices, conducted by a public educational institution that receives or benefits from federal or state financial assistance.

Sponsors and co-sponsors of HB 741:

Representatives Fine, Caruso, Donalds, Fischer, Killebrew, LaMarca and Roach

Link to bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741
Amendment to HB 741 was proposed and adopted on March 21st in the Education Committee.  It removed lines 95-99 and inserted:

(c) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or the State Constitution. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to conflict with federal or state discrimination laws.