In Florida, faculty and staff at public colleges will face additional punishment — even termination from their jobs — for using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity under a new rule approved by the state’s Education Department.
The new mandate represents the latest update to the state’s bathroom policy less than two months after a law took effect in Florida requiring people to use publicly-owned bathrooms in accordance with the sex they were assigned at birth or else face trespassing charges.
On Aug. 24, the state’s Education Department and board passed the latest rule, which states that people at the state institutions are required to use the bathroom in accordance with the sex they were assigned at birth, or a unisex bathroom. This rule also applies to changing facilities and student housing.
While the initial law called for disciplinary actions to be taken against individuals who violate the policy, the new rule adds specific requirements for punishment. The first offense results in disciplinary actions decided by the institution, such as “verbal warnings, written reprimands, suspension without pay, and termination,” according to the rule, and the second offense “must result in a termination.”
This new rule comes after Governor Ron DeSantis banned gender affirming care for youth, implemented the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law, and signed legislation barring trans student-athletes from participating in sports.
“The DeSantis administration has once again weaponized government against the LGBTQ community,” Carlos Guillermo Smith, a senior policy advisor for the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization known as Equality Florida, said in a written statement. “The Florida State Board of Education imposed new attacks on transgender educators, administrators, and students that go far beyond the scope of the anti-trans bathroom law. These threats of bathroom investigations, forced firing of personnel, and restrictions on dormitories in the Florida College System will only worsen the current culture of fear and intimidation against the transgender community. Everyone deserves the right to use the restroom facilities where they feel safe — including transgender Floridians. In our history, government attempts to create a system of second-class citizens by restricting access to to restrooms or water fountains have failed. They were defeated before and will be defeated again.”