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Florida instructs schools to ignore federal protections for transgender kids

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Florida’s Department of Educations has instructed the state’s public and private schools to ignore federal guidance on protecting transgender students from discrimination.

In a memo sent to school administrators on Thursday, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said the new federal protections under Title IX “are not binding law, do not create any new legal obligations, and should not be treated as governing law.”

“The Department will not stand idly by as federal agencies attempt to impose a sexual ideology on Florida schools that risk the health, safety, and welfare of Florida students,” the memo continues.

Last month, the Biden Administration proposed changes to the legal interpretation of Title IX which would help prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The proposed changes mostly undo rollbacks of Title IX rights during the Trump administration.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation’s students — no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love — can learn, grow, and thrive in school,” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in June.

Diaz claims that allowing transgender girls to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their gender and to participate in school sports as their gender would jeopardize “the safety and wellbeing of Florida students” and risk violating Florida law. In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill to ban transgender girls from playing school sports.

“While Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Diaz are intent on weaponizing state agencies in their war on transgender youth, the fact remains: the U.S. Department of Education has said unequivocally that students are to be protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Equality Florida press secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement.

“The DeSantis Administration repeatedly puts the political ambitions of the Governor over the wellbeing of Florida’s students and the result is a state that is increasingly more hostile toward and unsafe for young people. LGBTQ students exist. The federal government has recognized that they are protected from discrimination. Even as the Governor attempts to bolster his right-wing bona fides by hurtling our state toward full-tilt authoritarianism, school districts across Florida should remain committed to protecting all students.”

DeSantis has declared an all-out war on Florida’s LGBTQ community. In March, he signed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law, prohibiting any mention of LGBTQ topics in schools.

Last month, he signaled that he is open to using Florida’s child protective service laws to terminate the parental rights of adults who take their kids to see drag shows, and his administration is trying to get a drag bar’s liquor license revoked for allowing children to attend a drag show.

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