Biology Wins: Florida Board of Education Votes to Support Separate Bathrooms

The State Board of Education voted Wednesday to support a comment from the Florida Department of Education, which asserted that school districts should have the right to divide bathrooms based on biological sex.

Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. signed the comment back in September, challenging a proposal by the federal government to expand Title IX protections to sexual orientation.

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General Counsel Andrew King spoke before the vote, saying that the federal government’s proposal undermines parents’ rights, harms student-athletes, and possibly violates the constitution. Several audience members clapped in support of the Department of Education’s comments.

“I’ve read the comment that the Department filed with the U.S. Department of Education, and I agree with it wholeheartedly,” Board Member Esther Byrd said in response.

“Reading sexual orientation and gender identity into Title IX is not only legally incorrect but it undermines the intent of Title IX and sets women back years… We need to take a position on this.”

Chairman Tom Grady also offered his position on the Department of Education’s comment.

“As I understand Title IX, it was specifically, by Congress, adopted to allow sex discrimination in sports… recognizing women separate from men. That’s the law.”

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The show of support follows a recent decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld that the St. Johns County School District did not violate a transgender student’s right by separating bathrooms by biological sex. During the vote, the general counsel drew a parallel between the court’s ruling and the department’s comment,

“They just said in other words, it’s not illegal for schools to separate bathrooms by biological sex in order to protect the privacy and safety of Florida students.”

The Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the position.

Last July, the Biden administration issued new Title IX guidelines directing schools to allow biological males to enter female bathrooms and compete in women’s sports, under threat of pulling school lunch funding. Commissioner Diaz pushed back, calling the measures “not binding law” and advising Florida schools to reject the guidelines.

The following October, the Board of Education approved a new rule requiring schools to inform parents and students of their bathroom and locker room use policies.

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Commissioner Diaz also announced Wednesday that Florida had recently been ranked as “the top state in the nation for parent power” by the Center for Education Reform.

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