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“Gender” to be replaced with “sex” in Florida High School Athletic Association bylaws – NBC 6 South Florida

TALLAHASSEE – The State Board of Education on Wednesday approved changes to the Florida High School Athletic Association's bylaws that include replacing the word “gender” with the word “sex” amid a larger dispute between federal and state officials.

The changes come as Florida and other Republican-led states challenge a Biden administration rule that would help implement Title IX, a decades-old law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs.

The federal rule would, among other things, require that discrimination based on gender identity be included in the broader definition of sex discrimination.

State Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said Wednesday he had “instructed the institutions under my jurisdiction not to take any steps to implement these harmful (statewide) regulations.” Diaz said the Florida High School Athletics Association is one of those institutions.

“By expanding the definition of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the Biden administration is depriving girls of athletic and educational opportunities,” Diaz said during Wednesday's meeting.

Among the changes to the FHSAA's bylaws was an update to the organization's nondiscrimination policy.

“The association will not discriminate against anyone on the basis of age, color, disability, sex, national origin, race, religion, creed or educational choice in its administrative policies, programs and employment practices. Each school is responsible for independently establishing its own non-discrimination policies,” the updated bylaws state.

Florida and other Republican-led states have passed numerous transgender-focused measures in recent years. In education, these measures have addressed issues such as which bathrooms transgender students can use and banning transgender women from playing on girls' sports teams.

During Wednesday's Board of Education meeting in Miami, Crystal Etienne, a teacher from Miami-Dade County, criticized the changes to the FHSAA's bylaws after they were approved.

“Do you think a child has to go through these critical tests to be their true, authentic self and win in sports? Do you think that's what happens in these schools? This is just another way to fuel the culture war,” Etienne said.

Following investigations into transgender athletes, the principal and staff at Monarch High School resume their duties.

Etienne also warned that if Florida “fails to comply with Title IX, it risks losing the federal funding our schools need to succeed.”

Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina filed a federal lawsuit last month challenging the new Title IX rule, claiming, among other things, that the Biden administration exceeded its legal authority when it expanded the regulations to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On July 1, a federal judge in Alabama will hear the states' and other plaintiffs' requests for a preliminary injunction against the rule.

However, the U.S. Department of Education published documents on its website stating that the rule does not apply to issues related to participation in sports teams.

“The Department intends to issue a separate final rule applying Title IX to gender-segregated sports teams,” one of the documents states.

Ratification of the FHSAA Charter by the State Board of Education is a relatively new requirement. The legislature passed a law last year requiring the board to give final approval to such changes.

“A charter adopted by the FHSAA board does not take effect until it is ratified by the State Board (of Education). This allows us to have some oversight but also a good dialogue with the FHSAA,” Board of Education Chairman Ben Gibson said Wednesday.

Other changes to the statute passed on Wednesday include allowing student athletes to continue playing sports if they complete their education early.

Anna Harden

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