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Florida Department of Education Fights Back Against Gender Identity Inclusion in Title IX Update

May 09, 2024
In Recent News

What Does This Mean for Florida Students?

A new bill set to take effect on July 1, 2024, is renewing the conversation about Title IX updates in Florida. The Florida Department of Education has consistently fought against the Biden-Harris Administration's proposed changes to Title IX, including those that promote gender identity inclusion and specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Individuals who experience gender discrimination or sexual harassment are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this may be a direct violation of Title IX, a federal law that protects students, faculty, and staff at public and private educational institutions from gender discrimination. 

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at private and public educational institutions that receive federal funding. Individuals who experience sex-based discrimination at an educational institution, such as a college or university, may be able to take legal action citing a violation of Title IX.

What Changed in the Recent Title IX Update?

The Biden Administration announced in June 2022 that they would be proposing changes to the decades-old law. The changes were expected to be in effect by May 2023 but have been pushed back several times. One of the proposed changes was to include language prohibiting discrimination-based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Florida’s Sexual Misconduct Information in Public K-20 Education, set to take effect in July, contains language requiring schools to ensure that “students and employees have equal access to education and educational facilities, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

The new law would also require school districts to provide contact information for the Title IX coordinator at the institution, have a policy related to sexual harassment and other Title IX protections, and to implement a comprehensive prevention and outreach program on the matter.

What Does This Mean for Transgender Students?

According to Central Florida Public Media, the changes will have “wide-ranging implications for LGBTQ students.” Under the Title IX updates, discrimination against LGTBQ and transgender students would be prohibited. Students would be able to use the restroom and locker room that aligns with their gender identity. 

The new law, however, does not overturn a statewide ban that prohibits transgender students from playing on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Transgender women in sports are still required to participate in sports that align with their biological gender. 

The Fairness in Women's Sports Act, signed by Governor Desantis, does not allow individuals who were assigned the biological sex of male at birth to join a female team. 

Florida’s DOE Tells School District to “Disregard” Changes

Almost immediately after the initial proposed changes to Title IX were announced, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. instructed superintendents and school boards to disregard Title IX updates. He said they were under “no obligation” to follow these guidelines. The Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, also announced opposition to the changes.  

Are These New Changes Still Enforceable?

Title IX is a federal law. It applies to most public and private schools that receive federal funding. Individuals who face gender-based or sex-based discrimination are strongly encouraged to report the potential Title IX violation and to seek legal counsel. In most instances, Title IX is enforceable and must be upheld. 

Should You Consult an Attorney for Challenging Gender Discrimination in School?

If you face gender identity discrimination at school in Florida, you should consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and will walk you through the legal process. Title IX is designed to protect students, staff, and faculty at public and private institutions from discrimination. A failure to follow these guidelines is harmful to all students, particularly those who have historically faced discrimination. 

Your institution is required to have a Title IX coordinator. If you suspect a Title IX violation, it is essential to not only report the allegations to the coordinator, but also to consult with an attorney about your rights. An attorney can help you navigate the proceedings and work to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.  

Mase Seitz Briggs: Protecting the Rights of All Students

At Mase Seitz Briggs, we have extensive experience protecting the rights of all students, including the transgender and LGBTQ community. Our lawyers will work diligently to ensure that any and all Title IX violations are sufficiently addressed. We understand the devastating effect that discrimination can have on individuals of all ages, and we are here to help. 

If you have experienced gender identity discrimination, sexual harassment, or another violation of those things protected by Title IX, contact us at (844) 627-3529. We offer a free, confidential consultation for all students. All case evaluations are provided without obligation to retain our services. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida and the surrounding areas. 

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