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High school is first in Florida to be fined via Women’s Sports Act

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(The Center Square) – Florida’s education commissioner on Wednesday praised a decision by the state’s High School Athletic Association to fine the Broward County school system $16,500 for allowing a boy to play on the girls volleyball team.

The student at Monarch High in Coconut Beach, professing to be transgender, should not have been allowed because of the 2021 Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida passed legislation to protect girls’ sports and we will not tolerate any school that violates this law,” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said in a statement. “We applaud the swift action taken by the Florida High School Athletic Association to ensure there are serious consequences for this illegal behavior.”

A Florida LGBTQ group criticized the Athletic Association decision, WLRN reported.

“Student’s lives and administrator’s livelihoods were upended as a result of the DeSantis administration’s focus on culture wars,” Jennifer Solomon, Parents and Families Support Manager for Equality Florida, said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale.

The law “specifies that an athletic team or sport that is designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex, based on the student’s biological sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth,” DeSantis’ office said in a news release after signing the bill. “The designation of separate sex-specific athletic teams or sports is necessary to promote equality of athletic opportunities, and the majority of Americans support this action.”

The athletic association also ordered the principal and athletic director of Monarch to attend rules seminars, according to published reports.

The Broward County school system is the first in the state to be sanctioned under the law. The governor’s office deferred questions on the sanctions to the Florida Department of Education.

Broward County Chief Communications and Legislative Affairs Officer John J. Sullivan released a statement saying the district had received a letter from the Florida High School Athletic Association that the matter is part of an ongoing investigation.

According to published reports, the student has identified as female since before elementary school and has been using a girl’s name since second grade, according to court documents in a case challenging Florida’s law.

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