© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Title IX protections now extend to gender identity and sexuality. Here’s what it means in Florida

A boy poses for a picture outside.
Marta Lavandier
Jack Fitzgerald, a senior at J.P. Taravella High School who started the school's the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club, stands for a portrait in Lauderhill, Fla., on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Last year, as a junior, he led a school walkout to protest a new law that banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for kindergarten to third grade.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are now protected categories under updated Title IX rules rolled out by the Biden administration this week.

These changes have wide-ranging implications for LGBTQ kids in Florida’s K-12 schools.

Under the new protections, discrimination against LGBTQ or transgender students in Florida’s public schools is now prohibited.

Brandon Wolf is with the Human Rights Campaign. Wolf said these protections guarantee that students can present and live fully as their true selves in the state’s K-12 schools.

“That means that students can use the bathroom, they can use locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity, it means they can go to prom with the date of their choice or at other school dances without facing discrimination and harassment,” Wolf said.

Wolf said the new protections also extend to things like misgendering students.

“This new Title IX rule prevents schools from allowing teachers to intentionally misgender students. So it goes into the classroom and the way that people are interacting with each other,” Wolf said.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's Brian Dittmeier said Florida schools that don't follow these rules would be violating federal law.

He said parents and students should feel empowered to report abuses, whether in the form of harassment, bullying or assault based on their gender or sexuality.

“That of course, is critically important because of the high rates of harassment and bullying that LGBTQ students face and we see across the country 83% of LGBTQIA youth face some form of harassment or assault in school,” Dittmeier said.

Dittmeier said he hopes these new rules make students feel safer in class, so they can focus on the most important thing: learning.

“Alarmingly 62% of those who face that level of victimization never report an incident to school staff. And so this shift in explicitly naming sexual orientation and gender identity is protected under Title IX is going to be really important in addressing that underreporting element and building confidence that school staff have to respond to the victimization that LGBTQIA students are facing,” Dittmeier said.

The new rules don’t include protections for transgender athletes to play on sports teams or compete in a way that aligns with their gender identity.

A statewide ban still applies to transgender athletes at the high school and college level in the state.

Here's an explanation of the Title IX changes from GLSEN:

Copyright 2024 Central Florida Public Media. To see more, visit Central Florida Public Media.

Danielle Prieur
More On This Topic