Lawmaker says school moment of silence should be mandatory

Antani’s proposal, if enacted, would turn option into obligation.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

A bill from a local lawmaker would require public schools to hold a daily moment of silence.

State Sen. Niraj. Antani, R-Miamisburg, introduced Senate Bill 248 on Oct. 5. Local school boards can now allow schools to give students a daily moment of silence for “prayer, reflection, or mediation upon a moral, philosophical, or patriotic theme.”

The bill would turn that option into an obligation. It would also, however, prohibit school employees from making a student participate.

Antani framed his proposal as a benefit for students, saying he’s been told moments of silence calm students, reduce stress “and make them happy.”

The bill got its first hearing Tuesday before the Senate Primary & Secondary Education Committee.

“When you say ‘moment,’ what are we talking about?’” asked state Sen. Sandra O’Brien, R-Ashtabula, a committee member.

Antani said his bill didn’t define how long the silent moment would last — “colloquially speaking, a small time period,” he said.

He said he would be open to adding a definition proposed by the committee, but none was offered.

Florida passed a law in June requiring schools to have a daily moment of silence.

Many schools began adopting moments of silence after the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that schools could not mandate, sponsor or endorse student prayer. Moments of silence have survived court challenges when they are presented as neutral, not promoting a particular religion or viewpoint.

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