SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: August 28, 2023

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Florida State University System

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 28, 2023, the Florida State Board of Education voted to approve a new set of rules concerning bathroom use at state colleges for employees and students. The new rules potentially affect members of the transgender community on campus.

Under these new rules, employees and students will be fired or suspended if they use the restroom that does not match the gender they were assigned at birth two or more times. In addition to facing potential termination, individuals may also face a verbal or written warning and suspension without pay as penalty for a first offense.

The rules also apply to student housing, and require that individual universities establish disciplinary rules for transgender students who break the state restroom regulations. However universities have the option to provide a single-occupancy, unisex restroom or changing facility to circumvent the impact of the new rule by making all dorms unisex.

The newly approved rule on university/college campuses is an attempt by state regulators to implement a bill signed into law in May by Governor Ron DeSantis that bans transgender people from using bathrooms and changing areas that match their gender identity, with the penalty of criminal trespass charges.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the denial of equitable access to university infrastructure and services based on gender identity. In addition to the harm to those immediately impacted, restrictive rules and regulations diminish learning environments by limiting the diversity of identities represented on campus and university autonomy and academic freedom generally.