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Florida 'will not comply' with new protections for transgender students in Title IX, Gov. Ron DeSantis says

New rule blocks blanket policies that would prevent transgender students from using school bathrooms that align with their gender identity
A flag outside the Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center in Lake Worth Beach on Jan. 30, 2023.jpg
Posted at 11:43 AM, Apr 26, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state "will not comply" with new changes to Title IX by the Biden administration, which offers added protections for transgender students.

"Florida rejects Joe Biden's attempt to rewrite Title IX," DeSantis said in Thursday in a post on X. "We will not comply, and we will fight back."

A new rule unveiled by the Biden administration on April 19 blocks blanket policies that would prevent transgender students from using school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

A nearly 1,600-page document outlines the new rules for any school that receives federal funding. It explains how discrimination based on sex also includes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The rule makes it "crystal clear that everyone can access schools that are safe, welcoming and that respect their rights," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.

"No one should face bullying or discrimination just because of who they are, who they love," Cardona told reporters on April 19. "Sadly, this happens all too often."

The changes take effect in early August.

However, in a letter to school district superintendents and charter school leaders this week, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz told them not to begin implementing any changes because "Florida will fight this." He wrote, "In Florida, we respect parents' rights to direct their children's education. We protect our students' safety and privacy."

Read the full letter from Diaz to school leaders:

Last August, the Florida Board of Education approved a rule that prohibits someone from willfully entering a restroom or changing area of the opposite sex, specifically in Florida's colleges and universities.

"We are not gonna let Joe Biden try to inject men into women's activities," DeSantis said Thursday on X. "We are not gonna let Joe Biden undermine the rights of parents. And we are not gonna let Joe Biden abuse his constitutional authority to try to impose these policies on us here in Florida."

Jon Harris Maurer, the public policy director for Equality Florida, supports the move by the federal government.

"We've been waiting for these rules for some time, and we're excited to see rules to affirm what we've long understood — that these regulations protect LGBTQ students including transgender students," Maurer said.

While Maurer said the group was excited to see the new Title IX regulations, they were not surprised to see DeSantis take a stand against them.

Jon Harris Maurer explains why he supports the move by the federal government to expand rights for LGBTQ students.
Jon Harris Maurer explains why he supports the move by the federal government to expand rights for LGBTQ students.

"What we see is the governor now playing cruel politics that will hold hostage students across the state who risk their education funding at the federal level because of these challenges," Maurer said.

He said Equality Florida will continue to fight to make sure parents and students understand their rights.

Legal challenges are expected to pile on from Florida and other states.

Schools could lose federal funding if they are not in compliance, but it's not clear if the federal government would exercise that ability. It is also not yet decided how this will impact athletics. The Department of Education said it is still going through the rulemaking process on that front.

Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association, provided the following statement to WPTV:

"Every student in Florida deserves a world-class education. When elected officials decide to place their political agendas ahead of students in Florida and ignore federal protections meant to keep students safe, students lose out. We know that in order for students to learn in a classroom, they must feel safe in their schools. At the Florida Education Association, we remain committed to working with our statewide partners to ensure every student can learn, grow, and thrive in our classrooms and that every educator has the ability to advocate for their students, and fight for better lives for themselves and their loved ones."