TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has advised school districts to ignore protections for LGBTQ students that President Joe Biden’s administration…
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has advised school districts to ignore protections for LGBTQ students that President Joe Biden’s administration is trying to implement, saying anti-discrimination language is not mandatory law and following the guidelines could violate state law.
Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz wrote to school districts Thursday saying they should not change current practices because of proposed new Title IX rules that extend protections from sexual discrimination to students based on their gender identity or sexual orientation .
“Nothing in these governing documents requires you to provide biological males who identify as female with access to women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, or dormitories … or to allow biological males who identify as female to compete on women’s sports teams.” said Diaz.
He added that doing any of these things would “jeopardize the safety and well-being of Florida students and risk violating Florida law.”
But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state’s only elected Democrat and whose agency handles foreign school lunches, said it’s not just about bathrooms, it’s about student nutrition. The United States Department of Agriculture requires schools to display a non-discrimination poster in order to receive federal money for lunch programs, she said.
“This is a bogus culture war that they’ve created that’s going to deny children food,” Fried, who is hoping to challenge Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, said at a news conference. “I will do everything I can to ensure that Florida’s children are not victimized by the DeSantis administration and denied food.”
Fried’s department recently told schools they must put up posters with the new language. Diaz’s letter told schools to ignore the guidelines because they could violate state law.
Last year, DeSantis signed a bill that would ban anyone assigned male at birth from participating in women’s and girls’ sports. This year, he signed a bill that would ban the discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in public schools until at least the 3rd grade.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Tennessee blocked implementation of a proposed new federal protection after 20 states sued over the issue.
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