Top officials at a Florida high school, including the principal, have been reassigned as a county investigation looks to find whether they allowed a transgender athlete to play on the school’s girl’s volleyball team — a violation of Florida law.
Monarch High School principal James Cecil, assistant principal Kenneth May, athletic director Dione Hester, and volleyball coach Jessica Norton were moved to “non-school sites” on Monday, according to 7 News Miami.
Additionally, Alex Burgess, a temporary athletic coach at the school, was notified his services were paused until further notice.
The probe was launched to determine whether a biological male, who is currently or has transitioned into a female, was allowed to play for the team, sources told the outlet.
“The principal of Monarch High School and several staff members have been reassigned to non-school sites pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of improper student participation in sports,” Broward County School District spokesman John Sullivan wrote in a statement.
“Although we cannot comment further, we will continue to follow state law and take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation,” he added.
Sullivan said the district is committed to providing its students “a safe and inclusive learning environment.”
Broward County School District board member Torey Alston said the district will act according to Florida law.
“The investigation will follow the facts and if it is revealed that state law is in question, I could tell you, we will follow state law,” Alston said.
In June 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bill SB 1028 — also known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” — which bars biological males from participating in female sports.
In the wake of the investigation, an unidentified family friend told CBS Miami the trans athlete in question had not yet “come out” as transgender and is blaming officials for outing the high schooler.
This handling of the “incredibly sensitive” situation has left Scott Galvin, the executive director of Safe Schools South Florida, wanting answers.
“It’s horrendous first on just a human level that the school would out somebody on an issue like this that’s obviously incredibly sensitive,” Galvin told CBS Miami.
“It’s just dumbfounding, and the Broward County Schools should be ashamed of themselves.”
Lisa Maxwell, the executive director of the Broward Principals and Assistants Association, wrote that she’s “confident that at the end of this investigation, principal James Cecil will be fully exonerated and return to Monarch High.”
Some students were allegedly planning a protest and possible walk-out over the reassignment and in support of the transgender community, NBC6 reported.
“If we were to just sit here and just get them to go to the boy’s team, then it would look like we are not supportive of people’s perspective on things, like, being a girl or a boy or whatever, and this school is really big on LGBTQ+ clubs and stuff like that, so, it kind of would look more hypocritical on our part,” an unidentified student told the outlet.
Another unidentified student said they are siding with the Florida law if the trans athlete is a biological male.
“If he is a biological boy, I don’t think he should be able to play on a girl’s team,” the student told NBC6.
23 states have banned transgender students from competing in high school sports consistent with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
In Florida, a female transgender student-athlete can’t participate without first showing a birth certificate saying she was born a female.
The law does not prevent athletes born as female from playing on boys’ or men’s teams.