Florida pushes back on transgender athletes rule

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Protestors march against a bill restricting transgender girls from sports teams in Pierre, South Dakota on Thursday, March 11. (Toby Brusseau/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)

The Florida Board of Education on Wednesday adopted a statement condemning a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Education that is geared toward allowing transgender athletes to participate on teams consistent with their gender identity.

The proposed rule would apply to schools that receive federal education money.

It deals with a more than 50-year-old federal law known as Title IX, which bars sex-based discrimination in educational institutions.

“The proposed regulation would clarify Title IX’s application to such sex-related criteria and the obligation of schools and other recipients of federal financial assistance from the Department (of Education) … that adopt or apply such criteria to do so consistent with Title IX’s nondiscrimination mandate,” a summary of the proposal said.

In a letter submitted last week to the federal agency, state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. and state university system Chancellor Ray Rodrigues pushed back against the proposal.

“The proposed regulation is a functional ban on states wishing to prevent biological males from competing on women’s sport teams,” Diaz and Rodrigues wrote.

They pointed to a 2021 Florida law that included a ban on transgender females participating on girls’ and women’s high-school and college sports teams.

The state officials said the federal proposal “is contrary to Florida law and a growing number of laws in sister-states” across the nation. Education officials from Arkansas, North Carolina and Wyoming also signed the Florida officials’ letter.

“To try to eliminate the opportunities that have been created for girls is completely absurd, and I believe it is immoral,” Diaz said during Wednesday’s state board meeting.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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