ACLU to Florida Officials: Protecting Transgender Students is "Simply the Right Thing to Do"

Letter sent to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Bondi, Education Commissioner Stewart seeks to dispel myths about transgender students, urges state to reject calls to defy federal guidance

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
May 19, 2016 4:00 pm

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MIAMI, FL – The ACLU of Florida is calling on state leaders to protect all students in Florida schools – including transgender students. In a letter sent today to Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the ACLU of Florida urged state officials to reject calls to ignore recent guidance from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education explaining the obligation of public schools to not discriminate against transgender students.

On May 13, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice announced comprehensive guidance regarding the requirement that public schools treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity under existing gender non-discrimination laws. Since the issuance of that guidance, there have been calls for Florida officials to advise Florida school districts to ignore these requirements.

The ACLU letter, a copy of which was also sent to every school superintendent in the state, seeks to dispel myths and fears about transgender students and explains that protecting transgender students is not only required by law, it is the right thing to do.

From the letter:

“We at the ACLU of Florida agree with those on all sides of this issue that all students should have the right to a safe, supportive school environment in which to obtain an education and to thrive and grow. Differences of opinion as to how to treat transgender students come mostly from common misunderstandings about who transgender people are.”

[…]

“Providing access to sex-segregated facilities consistent with one’s gender identity is important for the safety and well-being of transgender students, who cannot be excluded from the right that all children in Florida have to an education free from discrimination and harassment. Excluding transgender students from the same restrooms used by other students that correspond to their gender identity sends a message to transgender students and their peers that transgender students should be treated differently and that their mere presence in the same facilities used by their peers is unacceptable.”

[…]

“We urge you to refrain from encouraging school districts to ignore the recent guidance concerning transgender students. Independent of the reasons based in this nation’s civil rights laws that are set forth in the recently issued guidance, protecting transgender students is simply the right thing to do.“

A copy of the letter is available here: https://aclufl.org/resources/letter-florida-officials-re-federal-guidance-protecting-transgender-students/

Last week, the ACLU of Florida also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education calling for an investigation into a policy that discriminates against transgender students at Marion County Schools. More information about that complaint is available here: https://aclufl.org/2016/05/12/aclu-files-title-ix-complaint-challenging-marion-county-schools-anti-transgender-bathroom-policy/

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