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Florida high school fined, put on probation over trans participation on girls volleyball team

A Florida high school was fined and put on probation for violating state law regarding transgender athletes playing on teams that do not correspond with their biological gender.

A Florida high school was fined and put on probation for violating state law when it allowed a transgender athlete to play on the girls' volleyball team last month.

The Florida High School Athletic Association fined Monarch High School $16,500, ordered the school principal and athletic director to attend rules seminars and placed the school on probation. Further violations could result in increased punishment. The student was also prohibited from participating in boys sports for 11 months.

The 10th grader was removed from the team last month after the Broward County School District was notified by an anonymous tipster that the transgender student was playing on the girls team. The removal of the student from the team sparked a walkout from Monarch students.

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"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," Education Commissioner Manny Diaz 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."

Jessica Norton, the student’s mother, called the outing of her kid a "direct attempt to endanger" the child. Norton also thanked students for the protest.

"The outpouring of love and support from our community... has been inspiring, selfless and brave," Norton said in last week’s statement. "Watching our community’s resistance and display of love has been so joyous for our family — the light leading us through this darkness."

The Human Rights Campaign slammed the ruling, saying it "does not change the fact that the law preventing transgender girls from playing sports with their peers is unconstitutionally rooted in anti-transgender bias, and the Association’s claim to ensure equal opportunities for student athletes rings hollow."

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law prohibiting transgender athletes from competing in female sports in 2021.

"[Sports] took me to college. It's taken many of our girls to college, to be able to get an education and to compete. We believe that it is very important that the integrity of those competitions are preserved," he said at the time.

"In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports, and boys are going to play boys sports. The bill that we're doing today will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida. It says that athletic teams or sports that are designated for females are open to females, and we're going to go based off biology, not based off ideology, when we're doing sports. The bill defines a student's biological sex based on the student's official birth certificate at the time of birth."

A 2021 suit challenging the law on the student’s behalf said the child has identified as female since before elementary school and used a girl’s name since the second grade. At age 11, the child began taking testosterone blockers and at 13 started taking estrogen to begin puberty as a girl. The child’s gender was also changed on the birth certificate.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit last month but gave the family until next month to amend it for reconsideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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