Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says that he will soon introduce what he is calling the “National Prayer in School Act” tomorrow, saying that the bill will protect the right to pray in schools and stop “degenerate LGBT” propaganda.
Students are already allowed to pray in school as long as they don’t disrupt school activities, a right that’s protected by the First Amendment. Prayer organized by public schools, though, has been banned since the early 1960s in several Supreme Court decisions.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in Kennedy vs. Bremerton that a school district wasn’t allowed to stop a football coach from praying with students after games and called those prayers a “personal religious observance.” The Department of Education has since released guidance around the decision that says school officials “may not encourage or discourage private prayer or other religious activity” and that schools can take measures to make sure that students aren’t being pressured to join in prayers.
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Gaetz’s bill gives everyone the right to sue if another person places “any limitation on the ability of that person to engage in prayer in any school.” The intent of the bill appears to be to nullify restrictions on prayer that disrupts school activities and to push back against the Biden administration’s guidance preventing teachers from pressuring students into praying in school.
Then he called LGBTQ+ people degenerates when announcing his intention to file the bill to The Daily Caller, a far-right website founded by white nationalist Tucker Carlson.
“God’s reach does not stop at the schoolhouse gates,” Gaetz said. “Our country’s education policy forbids students and faculty from praying while endlessly promoting degenerate LGBT and anti-White propaganda.”
“My legislation unlocks religious freedom once again so that in every classroom in America, there will be time for students to pray if they choose,” he added.
The text of the bill itself says nothing about classes devoting time to prayer every day, but perhaps he believes that even a teacher expecting students to listen and participate in class counts as a “limitation on the ability of that person to engage in prayer in any school.”
Gaetz isn’t the first Republican House member this year to call LGBTQ+ people degenerates, a word that comes from a Latin word that means “to be inferior to one’s ancestors” and is associated with the Third Reich. In May, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) complained about North Face and other companies advertising to LGBTQ+ people.
“How many times do we have to explain to the woke marketing departments at these disgusting companies that America is not a nation of degenerates?” she tweeted.