Florida's House passes prayer bill introduced by pastor

Florida's House of Representatives has passed a bill which aims to preserve public school students' religious expression, marking a victory for the pastor who introduced the measure.

(REUTERS / Joshua Lott)Two men pray at Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2012.

Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville) introduced House Bill 303, which would protect students, parents, and school officials when they express their religious beliefs within the confines of public schools. The measure also allows students to lead prayers and lets school personnel take part in such activities, Christian Broadcasting Network details.

Under HB 303, school districts will be prohibited from discriminating against students, parents, and school employees based on their religious beliefs and the way they express them.

According to supporters of HB 303, the measure is a response to the increasing restriction on free speech rights in public schools. The Associated Press notes that some schools prohibit its students from wearing religious accessories.

Meanwhile, Liberty High School in Frisco has been using a classroom as a prayer room to accommodate students and religion. This trend is now being observed in public schools across Texas, Houston Public Media notes.

Last month, Texas' attorney general Tim Boyer sent a letter voicing out concerns over Liberty High's prayer room.

"Liberty High School is not a mosque. It's not a synagogue. It's not a tabernacle. It's not a temple. It's not a church," said Boyer in his letter. "It is a school. It is a public school supported by taxpayers for the purpose of educating our children."

For the Frisco superintendent, the letter is just a "publicity stunt" and pointed out that they have been using the prayer room for several years now with no one expressing opposition against it. The school district also said it did not violate any state or federal laws and that the facility can be used by students from all kinds of religious backgrounds.

Aside from establishing prayer rooms for students, public schools in Frisco also allow students to wear head covering. Other schools accommodate students' dietary restrictions related to their faith.

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