Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | June 16, 2021
Transgender students should be able to play sports with members of the gender they identify with, the Broward School Board has proclaimed in a rebuke to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The School Board, near the end of an eight-hour meeting Tuesday night, unanimously agreed to oppose the law, signed by DeSantis earlier this month known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” The law is designed to stop transgender girls from being able to play on girls’ sports teams, arguing they have an unfair advantage since they were born male.
Supporters of transgender athletes say the advantages can be mitigated when a transgender girl takes hormone blockers and the law is merely a way to discriminate against transgender people.
“The School Board of Broward County prides itself on being welcoming, affirming, and inclusive for all students, including all members of the LGBTQ+ community,” the proclamation states. ”Transgender youth are among the most misunderstood and marginalized within our schools and community.”
The resolution adds that transgender youth “deserve to live a life that is safe and free of discrimination of any kind.”
The move is merely symbolic. School Board members acknowledge they still must comply with the law.
“A time will come when we’ll be able to rescind this and change this situation,” board member Ann Murray said.
Board member Debbi Hixon asked interim General Counsel Marylin Batista whether the proclamation is allowed since the law has already been signed and will take effect July 1.
“You have the ability to collectively state your position,” Batista responded. “You’re not saying you’re not going to abide by the law.”
The left-leaning School Board has taken positions on other hot-button issues in the past, including opposing the deportation of families of immigrant students after President Trump was elected and supporting a ban on semi-automatic weapons after the Parkland shooting.
The support of transgender students drew strong opposition from several conservative activists.
“You want to override the Florida Legislature and the governor. You want to oppose fairness. Who opposes fairness? The Broward County School Board, that’s who.” said Darlene Swaffar, a Broward Republican who has run for Congress.
Chris Nelson, a conservative activist who often protests against masks and other COVID-19 restrictions, asked why transgender support was a priority for the board.
“You’re doing this proclamation for boys to participate in girls’ sports. That is your No. 1 concern, allowing a senior in high school that’s male to go into the same restroom as a female who’s a freshman? That’s disgusting,’” he said.
The comments outraged School Board member Sarah Leonardi, who had requested the proclamation.
“It has nothing to do with bathrooms,” she said. “If they had read the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, they’d know it’s not about fairness. It’s about discriminating against some of the most vulnerable youth, and it’s despicable.”
Michael Rajner, a Wilton Manors LGBTQ activist, said he was watching the public comments at home and was so angered by them, he drove to the meeting to lend his support to the proclamation.
“This governor and Legislature have been hell-bent on their assault on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” he said, “But most importantly, they’ve been using whatever wackadoodle science to target transgender young females, and it’s absolutely outrageous.”