Florida Students Rally in Solidarity with Transgender Athletes, Opposing Sports Ban

Students have left their South Florida high school in droves, supporting staff members who were reassigned over allegations of “improper student participation” in school sports.

Student Walkout in South Florida

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Monarch High School, a school in Coconut Creek, south Florida, witnessed hundreds of students leaving their classrooms on Tuesday. The walk-out was arranged in protest over the reassignment of several faculty members who allowed a transgender student to play for the Monarch girl’s volleyball team. 

Staff Reassigned

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The Broward school district removed several staff members from campus on Monday – including principal James Cecil, his assistant Kenneth May, the volleyball team coach, the athletic director, and an information management technician – over allegations of allowing “improper student participation in sports.”

Violating DeSantis’ Law

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According to Florida state law, their decision to allow a transgender student to play for the girl’s volleyball team was a direct violation of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. 

Failure to Challenge the Act

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The policy was signed by DeSantis in 2021 and placed a blanket ban on all student-athletes from joining a girl’s or women’s sports team if they were born a biological male. The Monarch High School student in question and her family had already failed to challenge the act in court earlier this month. 

Student Protest on Campus

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Many of the students who left their classes then rallied together to hold a short protest on school grounds that day. They carried placards in support of the student, who has been identified by the initials DN, with slogans saying “Let Her Play” and “Free Cecil.”

Lawsuit Not Related

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Though the student and her family had lost their lawsuit, a spokesperson for the school district, John Sullivan, affirmed that it had no bearing on the decision to relocate the staff members to “non-school sites.” 

Only Pertaining to State Law

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“The investigation was launched solely on an allegation of a state law not being followed,” Sullivan said. “The lawsuit had no bearing on our decision to investigate or reassign.”

Second Written Statement

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In a second written statement for the press Sullivan explained that “although we cannot comment further, we will continue to follow state law and will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation,” adding that “We are committed to providing all our students with a safe and inclusive learning environment.”

People Aren’t Happy

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The decision to reassign faculty members has left many students and some staff frustrated and angry at the school board. In an interview with CBS Miami, Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, expressed skepticism that the school district really understood the requirements of the 2021 policy before making the decision.

Do They Know the Law?

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“I don’t know if they even knew the law, understand the law, what training the district has given all of our athletic directors, all of our admins, all of our coaches on the law,” she said. “There’s a lot that needs to be known here that is not known.”

Providing an Impartial Investigation

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Peter Licata, the superintendent of schools in Broward, said on Tuesday that he was not at liberty to discuss any specific information concerning the investigation. He only stated that the relocation of staff was made to allow for a more impartial investigation.

Staff and District Keep Mum

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Otherwise, most staff at the school and district have kept quiet regarding the decision. Monarch school staff have referred all questions from the media to the school district, and the school district has made it clear that no further public comments will be made until the situation is resolved. 

Judge Stands by Decision

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Despite criticisms that have branded the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act as “cruel,” “horrific,” and “discriminatory,” the judge who oversaw the student’s lawsuit to challenge the act, district judge Roy Altman, has remained firm on his position. He described the law as being “tailored to an important and well-established governmental interest – the promotion of gender equality through the preservation of athletic opportunities for girls”.

Not Like the Other Laws

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“In this respect, it’s not at all like the kinds of laws the equal protection clause unambiguously disallows …” Altman continued. “That, for instance, prohibited Black Americans from eating at the same restaurants, drinking from the same water fountains, attending the same schools, and swimming in the same beaches as white Americans.”

No Further Comments

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So far, neither the Florida Department of Education nor any of the reassigned staff have responded to requests for comment.

The post Florida Students Rally in Solidarity with Transgender Athletes, Opposing Sports Ban first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Shawn Goldberg. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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