Media Contact

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

March 7, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Legislature voted to pass House Bill 931 (HB 931), which would allow uncredentialed chaplains in public schools.

In three open letters to state lawmakers, more than 200 individual chaplains, 38 faith groups, and 34 civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, voiced their opposition to a harmful wave of proposed state legislation seeking to install chaplains in public schools across the country to provide student-support services, including counseling and other mental-health assistance.

Following the passage of a 2023 Texas law authorizing public school chaplains, there has been a disturbing rise in copycat legislation. To date, school-chaplain bills have been introduced in 14 states in 2024, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana (pre-filed), Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. The ACLU joins a nationwide, interfaith effort to push back against these unconstitutional efforts to impose religion on public school students.

The Florida bill next heads to the governor for his signature.

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following:

“Allowing chaplains to provide counseling and other support services in public schools would violate students’ and families’ religious-freedom rights by exposing all public school students to the risk of chaplains evangelizing them or imposing religion on them throughout their school day.

“HB 931 may be affirmatively harmful to students as it does not require volunteer chaplains to have any training, certification, or other professional credentials or qualifications relating to the provision of student support services. Moreover, it appears that anyone can hold themselves out as a volunteer “chaplain,” as there does not seem to be any credentialing required to become a volunteer chaplain in Florida’s public schools.

“Additionally, it creates a significant risk of liability for school districts that will inevitably be picking and choosing which chaplains from which religions to approve or reject in their schools.

“The First Amendment protects the right of all students to attend public schools without the risk of religious indoctrination by government-approved chaplains. We urge the governor to veto this bill immediately.”