Florida students stage walk-out in support of trans student-athletes
High school students staged a walk-out from their South Florida school to protest the “reassignment” of a number of staff members after a trans student was allowed to play on a girls’ sports team.
Under Florida state law, introduced by Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, transgender student-athletes are barred from playing in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.
As a result, an investigation is currently underway at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek as to whether a transgender student was allowed to compete in her school’s girl’s volleyball team.
In the midst of the investigation, Principal James Cecil and four other staff members have been reassigned from their positions by the school district, NBC Miami reports.
Students took action on Tuesday (28 November) and walked out of class in the middle of the school day and held a demonstration on the school’s athletic field.
Protesters could be heard chanting “Trans lives matter” and “Bring back Cecil”, and dozens were photographed holding signs that read “Trans rights are human rights” and “Let her play,” referring to the student-athlete.
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The student walk-out was held just one day after the local school district reassigned Principal Cecil, as well as assistant principal Kenneth May, athletic director Dione Hester, information management technician Jessica Norton, and temporary athletic coach Alex Burgess to non-school sites, ABC News reports.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Broward Schools Superintendent Peter Licata explained that the investigation had been launched after a member of the community contacted the school board with a “tip-off” about a student-athlete.
When asked by reporters, Licata denied that this week’s staff reassignments had anything to do with a prior lawsuit that the student-athlete and her parents had brought against Monarch High School earlier this month.
A federal judge ruled against the student-athlete and her family, who had attempted to challenge DeSantis’s transphobic Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.
Licata told press that the staff reassignments were not part of a disciplinary measure, but were done to allow a fair and impartial inquiry, the Guardian reports.
Spokesperson for the school district, which is the sixth-largest in the US, John Sullivan, reiterated to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the decision to “reassign” five staff members was not inspired by the student’s earlier lawsuit.
“The investigation was launched solely on an allegation of a state law not being followed,” said Sullivan. “The lawsuit had no bearing on our decision to investigate or reassign.”
“Although we cannot comment further, we will continue to follow state law and will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation.
“We are committed to providing all our students with a safe and inclusive learning environment.”
Florida was the seventh US state to ban trans student-athletes from participating on the correct sports team through the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.
The bill was heavily disputed by the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, and Florida state representatives.
Both before and after the bill was signed into law, numerous studies were published that demonstrated both the importance of trans inclusion in school sports and that trans women have no advantages over cis women in sports.
Still, the torrent of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation continues to spread across the US.
In the year to May alone, a record number of more than 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, with more than 220 of these specifically targeting trans and non-binary people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
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