Florida’s Department of Education, backed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, has advised schools not to follow federal guidelines that protect transgender youth.
The DeSantis administration may be the most overtly autocratic governorship in the country right now, a fact made clear by its attempts to suppress marginalized voters, whitewash history, punish companies that don’t acquiesce to DeSantis’ wishes and force LGBTQ people into the shadows.
DeSantis and company have already pushed a host of measures meant to prohibit discussions about gender identity in schools
On that last point, DeSantis and company have already pushed a host of measures meant to prohibit discussions about gender identity in schools, including bans on LGBTQ-related lessons in class and bans on gender-confirming care for young trans people. Now, the administration is taking its obsession with trans people even further.
On Thursday, the Florida Department of Education sent a memo to education officials warning they could face repercussions if they follow the Biden administration’s newest Title IX guidelines, which were proposed in June and include protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The memo called the federal guidelines “non-binding” because they're currently in the public comment stage and haven't officially gone into effect. Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. told schools they should not “modify your practices or procedures based on these documents.” His memo warns against things like letting trans kids use facilities (such as bathrooms and locker rooms) that align with their gender identity. And it also suggests schools should not let trans kids play sports or stay in rooms on class trips with students who align with their gender identity.
“To the extent that you do any of these things, you jeopardize the safety and well-being of Florida students and risk violating Florida law.”
Florida has already enacted homophobic and transphobic laws under the guise of protecting kids. Those include the LGBTQ education ban — known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — and a ban on trans girls playing on youth sports teams that align with their gender identity. But this can’t be said enough: Such claims are bigoted, unscientific and demonstrably harmful to children.
In a post on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill earlier this year, I outlined the data showing trans kids disproportionately experience bullying in school, which includes being threatened with weapons at an alarmingly high rate.
Right-wing officials like those working for team DeSantis intentionally conflate convos about gender identity with convos about the act of sex to depict their opponents as sex-obsessed child abusers. But that’s merely a deflection tactic. In reality, it’s the conservative movement — not liberals — that has been obsessing over gender, genitalia and whether a child’s identity matches the sex organs they were born with.
And there’s no question conservatives are hurting kids with this crusade.