Bill would require students to watch controversial film

Bill includes opt-out for parents who don't want children to see film


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Some lawmakers think that there may not be enough patriotism being taught in Florida schools. A new bill would mandate students to view a controversial film twice before graduating.

The bill includes an opt-out for parents who don't want their kids to see the film.

Proponents say the conservative documentary "America: Imagine the World Without Her" aims to counter some of the things being taught in classrooms about United States history.

House Bill 77 and Senate Bill 96 would make it mandatory for all students to see the film twice -- once in eighth grade and again in 11th grade.

But the movie has been controversial. Film review site Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 8 out of 100, with some critics calling it propaganda.

Lawmakers might be getting the popcorn out for the film. House Education Committee member Manny Diaz has seen the movie.

"I thought it was a very interesting movie," said Diaz. "I think it touches upon points that aren't really touched on in the mainstream media or mainstream conversations."

But does Diaz think the film should be required viewing?

"I always have concerns about mandating certain things, but I think it's a very thought-provoking movie, and I think that if a teacher wants to show it in class to provoke thought or conversation or require it as homework to bring back, I think it's a good thought provoker," Diaz said.

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said she hasn't viewed the proposals or the film.

"We certainly want to ensure that our students are good citizens of the state of Florida and of the United States, but I couldn't speak to that specifically," Stewart said.

The bills' sponsors are planning a full screening for lawmakers before the legislative session starts.