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State Board of Education Protects Women and Girls in Sports and Continues to Prioritize School Safety

May 29, 2024

FDOE Press Office

State Board of Education Protects Women and Girls in Sports and Continues to Prioritize School Safety

Miami, Fla., May 29, 2024 — Today, the State Board of Education took a stand for women and girls by affirming the Florida High School Athletic Association’s actions to protect the integrity of high school sports. The State Board unanimously approved FHSAA’s amendments of bylaws to ensure that students compete based on their biological sex. In doing so, the Board asserted basic protections for all students, preserved fair opportunities for female athletes, and aligned with Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education against the Biden administration’s attempt to undermine critical Title IX protections for women and girls.

In addition, the Board continued to prioritize the physical safety of Florida’s students, teachers and staff by amending statewide school safety requirements, with a focus on campus access.

“I’m grateful that the State Board of Education took decisive action on critically important topics today, especially for women and girls,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Florida will never compromise on the health, safety and well-being of our students and educators. Whether it’s the integrity of athletics or safety on school campuses, we are absolutely committed to doing what’s right.”

Protecting Women and Girls in High School Sports

The State Board ratified the bylaws of the Florida High School Athletic Association for the upcoming 2024-25 school year and codified that students cannot be discriminated against on the basis “sex.” The updated bylaws ensure that students’ biological sex (not gender identity) is considered in all matters pertaining to the FHSAA. This modifies the bylaws to align with state law and administrative rules, which protect women and girls in school sports and educational opportunities.

The Board’s action is consistent with Florida’s fight against the Biden administration’s attempt to make radical changes to Title IX protections affecting women and girls, effective August 1, 2024. If successful, the federal anti-discrimination law’s longstanding application of biological sex will no longer have any meaning, as gender identity will be included within the term “sex.” At the direction of Governor DeSantis, Commissioner Diaz informed Florida superintendents and charter school leaders on April 24, 2024, that no educational institution should begin implementing any such changes until further notice. Florida has also filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education.

Strengthening School Safety Requirements

Florida is a national leader in protecting the physical safety of students, teachers and staff, and the State Board further strengthened school safety requirements by adopting amendments relating to House Bill 1473, with a particular focus on campus access control.

Newly adopted access control requirements include:

  • All gates and other campus access points must remain closed and locked when students are on campus.
  • Doors of school classrooms and other instructional spaces must be locked when occupied by students, except between classes.
  • All campus access doors, gates and other access points shall remain closed and locked at all times.
  • Required, age-appropriate instruction on the use of FortifyFL within the first 5 days of school.
  • All classrooms and instructional spaces must have a clearly and conspicuously marked “safest area.”

Additional adopted requirements from House Bill 1473 include annual inspections of all public schools in a school district by a School Safety Specialist or their designee, and unannounced compliance inspections of every public and public charter school over a 3-year period by the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools.

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