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Florida fines high school for allowing trans girl to compete despite state ban

Amid protests by some students, Monarch High School received a $16,500 penalty for allowing a transgender girl to play sports.

200 students walked out at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Fla. in support of a transgender classmate and to protest reassignment to staff members amid state sanctions due to the violation of a ban of trans girls in female sports in Florida.
D.A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Florida high school, found in violation of the state’s “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act” for allowing a transgender girl to play on the school’s volleyball team, received a $16,500 fine from the Florida High School Activities Association.

The school — Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, just north of Ft. Lauderdale — is now on probation through November 2024, and the trans student will be prohibited by competing in school sports through next November.

The penalty centers around a sophomore student-athlete, a transgender girl who participated in 33 matches for the school’s volleyball team during the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

According to a report from the Miami Herald, Broward County Public School Superintendent Peter Licota received an anonymous phone call from what he termed a “constituent” about the student’s participation. That call came two weeks after a lawsuit challenging the state law, in which the student in question was the plaintiff, was dismissed by a federal judge.

That news led to an internal investigation by the school district, which has led to ongoing investigations, as well as the reassignment of the school’s principal, assistant principal, athletic director, the team’s head coach, and a school information management technician who is also a parent of the student-athlete.

The penalty also calls for school administrators to attend a mandated FHSAA compliance seminar in summer 2024 and 2025, and must host an eligibility and compliance workshop by June 30, 2024.

The state’s action is the first punitive penalty assessed in any of the 23 states that have implemented such legislation. Florida has been one of the most prominent states on this issue since Republican Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis publicly signed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act” on the opening day of Pride 2021.

On June 1, 2021 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act”.
WFTS

This issue has been a touchstone for the current administration in Tallahassee.

“We will not tolerate any school that violates this law,” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said via X Tuesday. “We applaud the swift action taken by the FHSAA to ensure there are serious consequences for this illegal behavior.”

Actions already taken against the student and the five school personnel triggered a two-day student walkout of the school beginning November 28. Jessica Horton, the mother of the student and one of the personnel reassigned, has spoken out on how the situation has affected her daughter.

“Watching our community’s resistance and display of love has been so joyous for our family,” Norton said in written statement via her attorneys. “A lot of things were taken from my family this week — our privacy, sense of safety, and right to self-determination.

“There is a long history in this country of outing people against their will. Forced outing, particularly of a child, is a direct attempt to endanger the person being outed.”

Court documents from the lawsuit affirm that the student has been living, and participating in sports, as a girl since second grade. She started puberty blockers at age 11 and started hormone replacement therapy more than two years ago.

It has been reported by media sources in South Florida that the girl was not publicly out as trans until the news broke earlier this month. It also been reported that she has not returned to school since the investigation and news surrounding it.

A teammate and team captain expressed her worries and anger about how a peer and friend have been treated through this.

“Right now she is not being treated as human,” Jordan Campbell told NBC 6 South Florida on Nov. 30. “She was outed to all of these people and you read all the comments surrounding this and it's disgusting.

“Their main argument is about fairness in and equalness in sports, but how about fairness among humans. She’s human and needs to be treated as one. How about bringing some fairness into that?”

Broward County Public Schools can still appeal the decision and has 10 business day to do so.

This is not the first time that the school district has cross swords with the DeSantis Administration. BCPS were among the most outspoken opponents of this particular legislation when it was being discussed.