In what conservative parents consider a win, two newly-elected school board members in Miami-Dade County, Florida, wasted no time clarifying bathroom and locker rooms will be separated strictly by biological sex.
No longer will transgender students get to choose which bathroom or locker room they’d like to use.
Further, American flags—missing from many campuses—will be hoisted over every school.
In their first meeting after being elected, the two rookie school board members, who’d campaigned on platforms focused on parental rights, took action on the issues, making quick use of the board’s new balance of power that their elections tipped in favor of conservatives.
Robert Alonso and Monica Colucci were two of 30 candidates who’d been endorsed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and fierce advocate of policies that defer to parents.
Across the country, conservative parents have said they’re fed up with transgender bathroom and locker room policies that make their children uncomfortable, confused, and possibly unsafe. They’ve also expressed anger at school board meetings about progressive teachings in classrooms on topics such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender identity.
To fight back, many enthusiastically backed conservative school board candidates in recent elections. Their efforts were enough to flip many of the country’s school-governing bodies from liberal-leaning to more conservative.
Moms for Liberty, a national organization, says its members helped 272 conservative school board candidates win seats. And those wins helped flip 56 school boards to conservative control, allowing pushback against CRT and transgenderism.
CRT is a Marxist-based theory that divides people into camps of oppressors and victims, generally based on race. It teaches that America was founded on racism and is systemically racist.
Progressives often insist that schools don’t teach CRT, and that conservatives want to whitewash American history by downplaying the prevalence of systemic racism.
Transgenderism also has been pushed by progressives in classrooms, teaching children that they can choose the pronouns they want to use and the gender they want to express.
Fight For Parental Rights
In Florida, DeSantis endorsed pro-parent school board candidates in local races across the state, demonstrating his ongoing push for parental rights.
He championed the Parental Rights in Education bill in 2022, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by liberal opponents. It prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
The law also requires school districts to notify parents if there is a change in services from the school regarding a child’s mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.
It builds upon the state’s Parents’ Bill of Rights legislation passed in 2021. That measure clarifies that parents have the right to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of their children.
The elections of Alonso and Colucci to the School Board of Miami-Dade County represent another win for DeSantis. They campaigned on platforms of putting power back in the hands of parents. Officially, school board members are not partisan.
At their first school board meeting on Dec. 14, Colucci noted the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) had reviewed online transgender guidelines posted by Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The state agency said the district’s policies didn’t appear to comply with current rules and laws in the state.
FDOE unanimously passed new rules in October 2022 requiring public schools to notify parents if they offer bathrooms and locker rooms that are not sorted by biological sex. They must also outline their supervision procedures for those facilities, the rules state.
Transgender Choice Violates State Rules
On Nov. 18, Florida’s state education agency sent a letter to Miami-Dade superintendent Jose Dotres, citing several guidelines that still needed to be updated to reflect the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
The FDOE letter said student privacy, restroom and locker room use, and pronoun use for students likely fell under new parental rights laws. The letter pointed out several guidelines for supporting “transgender and gender expansive students” that had not been updated to conform to parental rights laws.
The 11th U.S. circuit Court of Appeals upheld the DeSantis-backed law on Dec. 30 in a 7–4 decision saying that the St. Johns county School Board did not violate Title IX, when barring a transgender student from using a boy’s bathroom.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools had posted guidelines saying transgender students could use the restroom and locker of their choice. The guidelines advised staff to address transgender students by their chosen names and pronouns while keeping that information hidden from parents.
“It was a violation of parental rights,” Colucci told The Epoch Times. “Parents are the child’s first advocate and they need to be informed in what’s going on in their child’s life.”
The guidelines also said that transgender students should be able to participate in interscholastic sports which correspond to their gender identity.
So Colucci presented an agenda item asking the superintendent to review guidelines, manuals, and documents posted on school sites to ensure the district complies with state law and isn’t posting ones that haven’t been approved by the board.
The transgender guidance, though it was posted on the district’s site, wasn’t a formal board policy, which allowed for confusion on bathroom and locker room use, Alonso said.
The new directive will allow for the review of documents and guidelines to make sure unauthorized guidelines don’t get posted again.
Alonso added during the meeting that ensuring the district follows laws is essential.
He later told The Epoch Times that he campaigned to make sure children are protected in bathrooms and locker rooms.
“We’ve made it very clear our bathrooms are based on biological sex, not on how you identify,” he said.
On Dec. 16, John Pace, the Miami-Dade deputy superintendent, sent a memo to district principals clarifying that students must use the bathroom according to their biological sex, Alonso said.
The policy would allow for transgender students to use single-person bathrooms if they choose, he added.
“In the past, there has been some confusion in our district and through other districts in the state of Florida and throughout the country,” Alonso said.
Restoring the American Flag
After visiting several schools, Alonso noticed the absence of American flags.
So at that first school board meeting of his term, he called for them to be added to campuses and classrooms across the Miami-Dade district.
“It’s quite shocking when you see the amount of classrooms that didn’t have an American flag flying but had every other flag flying, which was against state statute,” he said.
At least 1,000 classrooms in the district lacked flags, Alonso said. He said that flying the American flag is a way of uniting people, not dividing them.
“Our goal here is to take the focus back to true education inside of our classrooms and avoid all these distractions that are taking our kids in crazy directions all across our country,” Alonso said.
Members of the watchdog group County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF) have been pleased with the advancement of parental rights.
“This is a sign of positive change from our school board,” said Alex Serrano, executive director for the Miami-Dade chapter of CCDF.
Serrano said he feels school districts across the country have been purposefully misdirected to follow guidelines or rules that aren’t law.
The Biden administration has conflated a discrimination ruling regarding employment law under Title VII with Title IX regarding education.
Biden’s education department interprets the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County—which governs job discrimination for LGBT employees—to encompass Title IX protection against discrimination for LGBT students.
The Biden administration has pushed to incorporate gender ideology into a broad range of government regulations and programs based on the Bostock decision. In the Bostock decision, the court held that Title VII prohibits employees from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
However, the landmark case was narrow in scope, with Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote for the majority opinion, declining to expand the protection to all conduct of LGBT individuals.
Gorsuch wrote that Title VII did not purport to address bathrooms or locker rooms.
To offer schools clarification on the Supreme Court decisions, CCDF intends to counter by sending their own legal analysis to school districts, Serrano said.