Florida's universities move to limit restroom access based on sex at birth

Under a new proposed regulation, university faculty and staff members could be disciplined or fired for using restrooms that do not correspond with their sex at birth.

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  • | 8:00 p.m. September 21, 2023
Restrooms. Photo from Adobe Stock
Restrooms. Photo from Adobe Stock
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The state university system Board of Governors on Wednesday, Sept. 20, took a step in carrying out a controversial new law that includes requiring designation of restrooms for “exclusive use by females” and “exclusive use by males.” 

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the law in May, amid a series of measures in Florida and other states focused on transgender people. The Board of Governors approved moving forward with a notice of intent to adopt a new regulation about the designation of restrooms or having unisex restrooms. 

“University employees who violate (the law), are subject to their university’s established disciplinary procedures, which must include disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal,” the proposed regulation said. Universities are required to “provide documentation certifying their compliance” with the law by April 1. 

Amanda Phalin, a member of the Board of Governors who also is a professor at the University of Florida, voted against moving forward with the regulation. 

“In places where similar laws have been implemented, there has been an increase in harassment of people who were using or attempting to use the restroom,” Phalin said during a meeting of the board’s Facilities Committee, before the measure was taken up by the full board. 

Phalin also recommended that the board keep and report data on any instances of harassment. 

Charles Lydecker, chairman of the Facilities Committee, told Phalin that he “would be interested in hearing concerns that you have been made aware of.” 

Equality Florida, an LGBTQ-advocacy organization, said in a statement after the Legislature approved the law in May that it “perpetuates discrimination and exclusion of transgender Floridians by prohibiting gender-inclusive restrooms and changing rooms” in schools and other facilities. 

The state Board of Education, which oversees the 28 schools in the public-college system, passed a similar rule in August. State colleges are required to have separate bathrooms and changing rooms “based on biological sex at birth” under the rule.


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