Public School Employee Faces Potential Firing After Allowing Transgender Daughter To Play Girls Volleyball

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 19, 2024

An employee at a Florida public school is facing possible firing because she allowed her transgender daughter to play girl’s volleyball, an apparent violation of Florida’s 2021 Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

A school district investigation into the incident has caused the mom to make recent public comments saying it has ‘destroyed’ her daughter’s life.

School District Investigation

Following an anonymous tip about a transgender student playing girl’s volleyball, the school district overseeing Monarch High School in Fort Lauderdale launched an investigation last November.

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The tip told a Broward County school board member that there was a 16-year-old transgender student playing on the girl’s varsity volleyball team, which seemed to be in violation of Florida state law.


Fairness in Women’s Sports Act

The law in question being violated was the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, passed in Florida in 2021. Under this law, those who are listed as biologically male on their birth certificate are generally barred from participating in female sports competitions.

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“As a father of two daughters, I want my girls, and every girl in Florida, to compete on an even playing field for the opportunities available to young women in sports,” said Governor DeSantis in a statement after signing the bill into law. “Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states. It’s common sense.”

Mother Facing Firing

Jessica Norton, the mother of the transgender student, is also an employee at Monarch High School which is under investigation. Norton has been reassigned to a non-school site pending the results of the investigation, which could lead to her firing.

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“We will continue to follow state law and will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation,” the Broward County district said in a statement. “We are committed to providing all our students with a safe and inclusive learning environment.”

Firing Vote Scheduled

This week, there was a vote scheduled by Superintendent Howard Hepburn recommending that Norton should be fired. However, this vote has been delayed by at least a month.

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A separate recommendation by a district committee had proposed a 10-day suspension as punishment to Norton, but Hepburn overrode this recommendation.

Norton Speaking Out

Norton recently made headlines for speaking out about the investigation, saying that it has destroyed her daughter’s life and hopes for high school. Her daughter now attends school online.

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“They destroyed her high school career and her lifelong memories,” Norton said. “I saw the light in my daughter’s eyes gleam with future plans of organizing and attending prom, participating in and leading senior class traditions, speaking at graduation and going off to college with the confidence and joy that any student like her would after a successful and encouraging high school experience. And 203 days ago, I watched as that life was extinguished.”


Community Support

Norton, who is being represented by the Human Rights Campaign, thanked supporters who were sticking by her and her daughter’s story back in December.

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“Watching our community’s resistance and display of love has been so joyous for our family — the light leading us through this darkness. I want everyone to know that we see you, and we are so grateful for you,” Norton said.


Due Process Complaint

Jason Star, Human Rights Campaign Litigation Strategist, asserted that Norton has had her due process rights violated by the investigation.

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“The basic principles of due process demand notice and an opportunity to be heard. Ms. Norton has never even been told what conduct she engaged in or failed to engage in that would justify an investigation in the first place,” said Jason Starr, Human Rights Campaign Litigation Strategist. “Since the launch of the investigation, Ms. Norton, unlike the District, has acted in good faith. Their lack of clear communication, shifting expectations, and failure to provide Ms. Norton a clear statement of the facts supporting her termination constitutes a denial of her due process rights and, frankly, suggests that this entire process is working toward a predetermined outcome.”


Controversial Topic

The issue of transgender children participating in sports has become a divisive political issue in the country. Reportedly, at least 24 states have instituted laws that set bans on the ability of transgender women and girls to participate in female sports.

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Opponents of equal participation in women’s sports argue that biological males possess an unfair advantage and that allowing transgender athletes into the space would effectively destroy the idea of fair competition.


Student Protests

Norton and her daughter are not the only ones who face consequences from the investigation. When the investigation began, Monarch Principal James Cecil and three other administrators were reassigned.

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However, under pressure from a wave of student protests, these administrators were reinstated to their positions.


Federal Lawsuit

Norton has become a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit seeking to block the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act from affecting transgender students in the state.

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Her daughter began taking puberty blockers at the age of 11 and currently takes estrogen to conform with her gender identity. The daughter has not had any gender-affirming surgery.


Political Environment

Monarch High School resides in Broward County, one of Florida’s most politically liberal areas. Reportedly, the county has twice as many Democrats as Republicans, making it a standout place in Florida which has become a decidedly red state in recent elections.

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Broward County has a large LGTBQ community and is the fifth-largest school district in the nation.