To assure transparency and ensure local school boards and school administrators are accountable to parents, the Florida Board of Education passed a statute requiring parents to be notified if school bathrooms are allowed to accommodate students who do not identify with their “biological sex at birth.”
As of Wednesday, school boards and administrators are required to provide “full knowledge” to parents if they plan to veer from the traditional understanding of who can use boy-girl bathrooms and changing areas.
According to the Florida Board of Education (FBE), the new law reflects Gov. Ron DeSantis’ promise to support parents and protect children.
The FBE’s statement noted the rule is designed “to protect the fundamental rights of parents to ensure they are fully informed of how bathrooms are designated and how locker rooms, which include dressing rooms, are designated and supervised. This rule will ensure full transparency to enhance the health, safety and welfare of students when utilizing bathrooms and locker rooms and protect parental rights.”
The FBE also noted that if a school board attempts to allow different criteria to be used to override the statute, “the policy or procedure must be posted on the district’s website or charter school’s website, and must be sent by mail to student residences to fully inform parents.”
The FBE added that any exception school boards or administrators introduce must ensure that all students have access to a bathroom or changing area “separated by biological sex at birth.”
In a Wednesday statement to The Hill, Board of Education Chairman Thomas R. Grady said of the new rule: “What this rule is about, as I understand it, is parental notification. It’s not mandating what a particular bathroom looks like or doesn’t look like or who can use it.”
At a Wednesday hearing in advance of the vote, Florida educator Matthew Woodside said:
“As a Brevard Public Schools educator for the past 16 years, I’ve repeatedly seen the harmful results of allowing students to use the facility of the opposite sex.”
“Let’s be very clear: our policies are compelling teachers to be in the presence of nude minors of the opposite sex and expose our students to the same. This is criminal in any other context. Yet, teachers are given official threats with discipline when they refuse to comply.”
Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. also supported the new statute, telling Florida’s Voice:
“This rule will ensure full transparency to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of students when utilizing bathrooms and locker rooms and protect parental rights.”
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