FL Board of Education to rule on bathrooms and biological sex at birth, in private schools

By: - August 22, 2023 5:44 pm

Public washroom or bathroom sign. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In what has become a contentious issue in the culture wars in Florida, the State Board of Education on Wednesday will decide on rules to cover the “Safety in Private Spaces Act,” in K-12 private schools, which would prohibit students from using bathrooms or changing facilities not assigned to their biological sex.

The rules came about from legislation, HB 1521, passed in May and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law that went into effect July 1 “finds that females and males should be provided restrooms and changing facilities for their exclusive use, respective to their sex, in order to maintain public safety, decency, decorum, and privacy.”

It extends to public buildings, correctional institutions, and schools. That includes private schools as well as Florida’s public schools. 

The proposed rule does provide exceptions for unisex bathrooms or changing facilities.

In addition, “beginning July 1, 2024, the Attorney General may bring a civil action to enforce this section against any covered entity. The Attorney General may seek injunctive relief, and, for any covered entity found to have willfully violated this section, the Attorney General may seek to impose a fine of up to $10,000,” according to the law.

As to the proposed rules, a section would be added to the Private School Annual Survey, required to be submitted by private schools annually, that says “private schools must comply with all applicable requirements of [the Safety in Private Spaces Act], pertaining to the use of restrooms and changing facilities by males or females, based on biological sex at birth.” 

The survey, meant to be filled out by the private school’s owner or chief administrator, must be submitted by April 1, 2024, and otherwise relates to topics such as the school’s program information, a demographic breakdown of students, and graduation information. 

By submitting the survey, the private school would assure that it fully complies with the Safety in Private Spaces Act.

The Florida Department of Education did not immediately respond to the Phoenix request for comment.

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Christian Casale
Christian Casale

Christian covers education, politics, and whatever else interests him for the Florida Phoenix. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor with the Independent Florida Alligator.