Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

FAU students express concern over new transgender bathroom law

The legislation makes restrooms and changing rooms exclusive to biological sex.
Ron+DeSantis+at+a+bill+signing+%28May+2023%29.+Courtesy+of+Ron+DeSantis+Press+Office.
Ron DeSantis at a bill signing (May 2023). Courtesy of Ron DeSantis’ Press Office.

Transgender students at Florida Atlantic University may find their restroom choices more limited in the fall following the July 1 implementation of Florida’s newest bathroom law.

HB 1521 went into effect after Gov.  Ron DeSantis signed it on May 17. This legislation mandates that transgender individuals must use the restroom that corresponds with their biological sex. 

Transgender people are now banned from using bathrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity in all K-12 schools, colleges, and all government-owned buildings or spaces. 

Using a bathroom that doesn’t align with the sex at birth is now considered criminal trespassing, punishable by potential imprisonment. 

Rep. Scott Plakon, who sponsored the bill and represents Florida district 36, did not respond to requests for comment.

The bill text defines “female” as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs,” whereas “male” is defined in the bill text as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm.”

It is unclear at the time of publication if this bill will affect the gender-neutral restrooms on the FAU campus.

Staff members from the Center for Inclusion, Diversity Education, and Advocacy did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. 

Kris Barrios, a sophomore student history major, says the bill is dangerous for trans people.

“Trans students, myself included, will be even more endangered than we already are. I already worry about being harassed or assaulted in the men’s bathroom as a trans man, but this bill would lend legal credence to such behavior and allow for trans people to be charged with misdemeanors for “trespassing.” Honestly, I’m scared,” he wrote in an email to the UP. 

North Carolina legislators were the first to pass this type of law in 2016. 

According to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) think tank, out of the nine states that ban transgender people from using bathrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity, Florida has the strictest law of all. 

David Abraham, professor emeritus of law at the University of Miami, believes that although there would be legal challenges to this measure in the state, he doubts the bill will actually generate much public opposition. 

“Most Americans are committed to freedom of speech, independent universities and judiciaries, and basic decency toward migrants. But most Americans are not enthusiastic about gender fluidity, adolescent sex change, and so, here DeSantis has picked a winning issue for himself, one that will not draw much of a backlash,” he wrote in an email. 

Sophomore Brendan Buchanan, a Chicago native, is concerned about Florida’s increasingly right-leaning legislation. 

“We should be implementing policies that focus on pressing issues such as climate change action, police reform, and civil rights reforms to protect more marginalized people,” Buchanan wrote in a statement.

With more members of the public demonstrating their views on the FAU campus many are already concerned for their safety.

“I fear that the normalization of homophobic dialogue may not only personally affect many of my friends and peers, but also will set dangerous precedents for the environment at FAU, an environment that has already been subjected marginalized students to discriminatory rhetoric found by third-party tables in the breezeway and religious radicals outside of dorm buildings or on main pathways,” wrote Buchanan.

Isabella Feaheny contributed to reporting on this story. 

Sofia De La Espriella is the News Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message her on Instagram @sofidelaespriella.

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About the Contributor
Sofia De La Espriella, News Editor
Sofia is a junior double majoring in multimedia journalism and history. She is passionate about governance, foreign relations, and the Latin American region. On a determined path toward graduate school, Sofia aims to specialize in these fields and acquire an in-depth understanding of their intricacies. Ultimately, she aspires to become a respected political journalist.

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