The Florida Department of Education is telling public schools they do not have to follow a new Biden administration policy that prohibits sex-specific restrooms and requires schools to allow biological males on girls’ sports teams.
Manny Diaz Jr., the commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, released a memo to school superintendents and school boards July 28 stating that the administration’s policy is “not binding law,” does not “create any new legal obligations” and “should not be treated as governing law.”
On June 23rd, @USedgov proposed changes to force schools to change policies, such as allowing men to play on female sports teams, men to room w/ females on school trips, etc. under Title IX sex discrimination laws.— Manny Diaz Jr. (@SenMannyDiazJr) July 29, 2022
This guidance is NOT law & did not follow rulemaking procedure. pic.twitter.com/HoFmV3pY1g
Diaz was referencing new policies issued by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The policy was labeled a “rule.”
“Indeed, the USDOE has even acknowledged in litigation that its guidance document is not binding or enforceable,” Diaz wrote. “... As such, you should not treat the USDOE or USDA guidance documents as binding or otherwise modify your practices or procedures based on these documents.”
The new Biden administration school rule, issued last year by the Department of Education, interprets Title IX as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, a 2019 ruling related to employment. The text of Title IX prohibits discrimination based only on sex.
The memo from Diaz even warns Florida’s schools that by following the Biden administration rule, they could be breaking Florida law.
Commissioner @SenMannyDiazjr informed districts that schools do not have to follow the nonbinding federal guidance. For example, nothing legally forces schools to allow biological males who identify as female to compete on female sports teams. In fact, doing so violates FL law. https://t.co/ykPrksLGst pic.twitter.com/FhnpE4lwzt— Florida Department of Education (@EducationFL) July 29, 2022
“[N]othing in these guidance documents requires you to give biological males who identify as female access to female bathrooms, locker rooms, or dorms; to assign biological males who identify as female to female rooms on school field trips; or to allow biological males who identify as female to compete on female sports teams,” Diaz wrote. “To the extent that you do any of these things, you jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of Florida students and risk violating Florida law.”
The Florida Department of Education, Diaz wrote, will not “stand idly by as federal agencies attempt to impose a sexual ideology on Florida schools that risk the health, safety, and welfare of Florida students.”
“The Department will do everything in its power to protect the wellbeing of all Florida students and to vindicate the right of all parents to know what takes place in their child's classroom. We trust that you will join us in this effort,” he wrote.
Photo courtesy: Taylor Wilcox/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.