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Action Alert: OPPOSE HB 1027 Opening Remarks at High School Athletic Contests

Deadline - contact ASAP

We need you to urgently OPPOSE a bill -- HB 1027 (Barnaby, Yarborough) Opening Remarks at High School Athletic Contests -- that passed both of its assigned House committees and is being prepared for its floor vote within the next week. At first glance, this bill seems innocuous. After reading its brief bland description on the House website, it is easy to move past it as being relatively unimportant in the context of the other horrific bills being debated and passed this year. But a more detailed review of the bill's text finds something entirely different and very disturbing. The bill text states that athletic associations must adhere to the following rules prior to all championship athletic competitions with participating schools governed by the athletic association:

  • Give competing schools the opportunity to make opening remarks lasting no more than 2 minutes over a public-access system before the start of the athletic competition;

  • Require that, before any opening remarks, a public address announcer must announce that the content of the opening remarks is not endorsed by the athletic association nor are they reflective of their views or opinions;

  • And here is the kicker -- "The athletic association may not control, monitor, or review the contents of the opening remarks, and may not control the school's choice of speaker."

Let that sink in. Try to imagine what comments might spew forth in 2 minutes of un-reviewed remarks from someone who is looking for a megaphone when you as an audience member can't easily get away. While proponents of the bill position it as an issue of "free speech" and their desire to promote group prayer before the athletic competition (despite the fact that not everyone in the audience wants to participate in their religious activity), there are literally no guardrails on the opening remarks because of the inability to review and control the content. This bill just as easily allows out-of-the-mainstream political ideas to be voiced, including endorsement of QAnon lies or other wacky conspiracy theories. And it would be impossible to stop white supremacists from spreading their hate or to stop religious zealots from bullying LGBTQ players prior to the start of the competition. There are literally no restrictions. And while any other audience is free to avoid going to a KKK rally or to turn off the TV when a Proud Boy or Tucker Carlson is talking, there would be no such choice to avoid this situation at an athletic championship competition with this bill enacted into law. Two minutes is a long time to be trapped in a packed auditorium or crowded bleachers listening to hate speech or wacky lies. Fight now. Contact your individual House Representatives and ask them to vote "NO" on this anti-American bill. Ask your club members, friends and family to do the same.

Representative Ralph Massullo, Jr (R) 487-5031

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