Students banned from using nicknames under new anti-trans Orange County schools guidance

A young person walking down a school hallway

The Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) system in Florida has announced new guidance that means trans teachers will be misgendered and students will need parental consent for “any deviation” from their legal name.

Under the guidance, published Monday (7 August), teachers at schools in Orange County must use pronouns and titles that correspond to their “biological sex” at birth, and parents must fill out a form to let teachers know of any deviation from their child’s legal name, even if this is a simple nickname.

It means a student named Robert would need permission to go by Rob.

The guidance states that parents of trans students may authorise teachers to refer to their child by their chosen name, but that teachers would not be obligated to use their correct pronouns.

Under the new rules, trans students will be provided with “single stall” restrooms and changing facilities and must not enter “group” facilities that don’t align with their sex assigned at birth.

There will be a penalty for any student who enters a bathroom or changing facility aligned with their gender.

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As well as this, any visitor, including parents, who enters such a facility and refuses to depart when asked risks being prosecuted for the criminal offence of trespassing, with the school district facing a fine of up to $10,000.

It follows Florida lawmakers passing House Bill 1521, which makes it a misdemeanour trespassing offence for someone to use toilets that don’t align with their biological sex, in May 2023.

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Another measure, HB 1069, passed the same month, restricts public school instruction on human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and related topics from grades six through 12.

The bill, which been branded absurd by sexual healthcare organisations, also states that sex is determined by genitalia “present at birth” and that employees are not required to refer to a person using preferred pronouns or personal titles. 

OCPS is the eighth-largest school district in the nation and the fourth-largest in Florida. It serves around 209,000 students across 210 schools and has more than 25,000 team members, according to its website.  

The guidance comes amid a flood of laws that target trans people and other marginalised groups, including many limiting discussions of gender, sexuality and diversity in US schools. 

In Florida, governor and US presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has supported a number of measures including the notorious Don’t Say Gay law.

PinkNews has contacted Orange County Public Schools.

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