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Battle between Florida, feds brewing over Title IX

An LGBTQ couple wears rainbow face paint.
An LGBTQ couple wears rainbow face paint.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said the state won’t comply with new Title IX rules that would ban discrimination against students based on gender identity and sexuality.

The new federal rules mean LGBTQ students can use bathrooms and lockers that align with their gender identity, and go to prom with the date of their choice.

Title IX rules initially were put in place to ensure women would be allowed to play on sports teams at American universities and colleges. The rules took effect in the 1970s and applied to any school that received federal funding.

This week the protections expanded to include LGBTQ people along with pregnant people and victims of sexual harassment.

Governor Ron DeSantis in a message on social media Thursday said Florida won’t comply with the new Biden administration rules, which take effect August 1.

Public universities and colleges in Florida have been told to hold off before carrying out the law.

Stetson Law professor Peter Lake said what comes next is uncertain.

“Will the Biden administration actually stand on what's known as a nuclear option and deny federal funding to schools or systems that fail to comply with federal mandates? That would be a highly unusual maneuver, to say the least. But it does look like we're going to [a] potential standoff between the federal and state governments,” Lake said.

Lake said many schools are already experiencing dwindling enrollment and funding problems.

But if they don’t follow state mandates, administrators' and teachers' jobs could be on the line.

“It's not the first time that a state has put down the federal government over federal mandates, but to get something this clear and similar you almost have to go back to the Civil Rights era to see this kind of a standoff that's brewing. And the stakes are very, very high legally and politically,” Lake said.

Lake said he expects there to be lawsuits over the rules, including several states seeking an injunction or a stay against them. Louisiana has also told its schools to ignore Title IX.

Read the letter sent to Florida schools from the state DOE:

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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