Trans university employees could be punished for using bathrooms that align with gender identity
Following the passage of a law targeting transgender people’s use of bathrooms, the entity overseeing public universities in Florida is determining a rule that would punish employees for using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
The Board of Governors on Wednesday voted to open the draft regulation for public comment ahead of the November meeting, where they expect to vote and approve the rule.
Under the rule, universities must establish disciplinary action against students and employees who do not follow the “Safety in Private Spaces Act.”
The act, which the Legislature passed in May and went into effect on July 1, dictates that people must use the bathroom of their biological sex at birth as defined by the state. Breaking that law could not only result in a misdemeanor, but soon it could cost university employees their jobs. The draft rules don’t specify punishment for students.
“University employees who violate s. 553.865, F.S., are subject to their university’s established disciplinary procedures, which must include disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal,” states the draft regulation.
Only one member of the Board of Governors voted against moving forward with the regulation. Amanda Phalin, the board member who voted no, said she recognized that the law required them to pass the regulation. She is a professor at the University of Florida.
“I believe it is also my duty to point out that in places where similar laws have been implemented, there has been an increase in harassment of people who are using or attempting to use the restroom. … In the meantime, I do recommend that the Board of Governors direct institutions to keep and report data on any instances of harassment that may occur going forward,” she said during the meeting.
Additionally, the regulation states that universities must have bathrooms and changing rooms designated exclusively for females or males or have unisex facilities, which must be for a single occupant or a family.
Each university will have to submit documentation to the Board of Governors to certify that they are complying with the law by April 1, 2024, according to the draft of the regulation.
Just under a month ago, the Florida Board of Education approved a similar regulation for the state community colleges. The regulation at community colleges appears harsher, stating the college must fire and employee if they use a bathroom that doesn’t align with their biological sex two times.
According to the law, females are persons belonging, at birth, to the biological sex that produces eggs, and males are persons belonging, at birth, to the biological sex that produces sperm.