Incident involving gender-neutral eighth grader in FL prompts call for better training

In honor of Spirit Day, millions of people across the nation have gone purple today to show their support for LGBTQ youth and take a stand against bullying.

Statistically, we know LGBTQ youth face much higher rates of bullying and harassment in schools, and examples of such discrimination in Florida are often reported to Equality Florida.

Most recently, at a Leon County middle school, an eighth grade student who identifies as gender-neutral withdrew from school after administrators said wearing a dress was a violation of school policy and called the student’s parents for a change of clothes. You can read more about the details of the story by clicking here. 

This student’s humiliating experience with school administrators has sparked conversations across Tallahassee about anti-bullying and safe schools policies.

Since the incident, Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s transgender inclusion director, and Margeaux Mutz, a Tallahassee member of TransAction Florida’s advisory board, have had multiple conversations with the student’s mother.

Advocates in Tallahassee, including Mutz, will meet this week to develop transgender training options to discuss with Leon Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons. The training format will be designed to help administrators develop safer school policies for transgender and gender non-conforming students.

And earlier today, Superintendent Pons’ office released a statement addressing the issue, stating:

"Superintendent Pons met with the family this afternoon regarding this sensitive matter.

It is being reviewed by the district's equity office in its entirety. As appropriate, recommendations regarding possible policy revisions and additional training will occur.

Leon County Schools is a safe and caring community that puts the well-being of children first. Bullying or the singling out of any student or employee who may express themselves differently will not be tolerated."

Stay tuned as we have more information on this story.

Full Statement from TransAction Florida:

“TransAction Florida, the transgender inclusion group of Equality Florida, expresses our sincere disappointment in the treatment of the Tallahassee student. There are national and state regulations and guidelines which specifically address this kind of marginalization, humiliation and discrimination of a gender non-conforming student. (See “Schools In Transition,” Broward County Critical Support Guide for LGBT Students, Department of Education, Title IX regulations.) TransAction hopes to support the family and provide resources for education and training to Leon County faculty and administration to develop “Safe School” policies which prohibit the kind of humiliation experienced by the student. Gender non-conforming students should be treated with respect and dignity by faculty and administration and feel safe in our schools."

For more information, please contact Gina Duncan at [email protected]

TransAction Florida is an initiative of Equality Florida Institute, the largest civil rights organization in Florida dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. This initiative was launched in 2014 with three broad objectives: To educate Florida's major employers on effective transgender inclusion protocol, to advocate for the trans community in a broader and more structured way, and to be an integral part of all public policy that involved transgender rights. To achieve these, and even broader goals across the Sunshine State, TransAction Florida was formed, which consists of transgender community leaders from all parts of our state.





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