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Trans Boy Kept Off Boys' Soccer Team in Florida Gets Apology

Soccer players
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The state's trans-exclusionary sports law applies only to transgender girls, not trans boys.

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A school system in Florida is apologizing after having prevented a transgender boy from playing on the boys' soccer team.

Florida has a law barring trans girls from competing on girls' school sports teams, but it doesn't have a similar ban on trans boys. However, a trans boy who moved to Jacksonville from Washington State last year was told he'd have to go to the girls' team, even after he made it through several rounds of tryouts for the boys' team, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Now officials with the Duval County School District are apologizing to the student, identified only as Zach, and say he can go out for the boys' team next year.

"During tryout season, I reached out to the head coach for the boys' varsity team, who also happens to be my history teacher," Zach told the Times-Union. "I wanted to know since I just moved here if it was OK [to play on the boys' team] or if I had to go to the girls'. He said it was all right."

But before the last round of tryouts, the coach, Brian McCrary, said Zach would have to switch to the girls' team, citing the law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in 2021. "I had only positive experiences during my time on the girls' team," Zach said. "But I ended up leaving for personal reasons -- I overextended myself -- and the feeling that I had invaded a women's space."

The school district's administrators didn't know about the situation until the Times-Union contacted them. They've now acknowledged the error.

"Narrative around that law may have contributed to the confusion," Duval spokesperson Tracy Pierce told the paper.

"School staff have been trained and informed on the current procedure," which involves submitting identity documents to the Florida High School Athletic Association to determine a student's eligibility. Pierce added. "In this case, I think the staff at the school just recalled the old policy and not the new when advising the student. To my knowledge, there was no interaction between the school and district staff on the question."

The matter points up issues with vague laws, the Times-Union notes. Many LGBTQ+ activists have criticized Florida's Parental Rights in Education law, also known as the "don't say gay" law, for its vagueness in restricting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, saying it will quash any discussion at all.

Zach encouraged other students to stand up for their rights. "Honestly, adults can pretend that we're not here, but we're going to find a way around all their laws and bans and come out stronger," he said. "Not being allowed to talk about who I am didn't prevent me from figuring out who I am."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.