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Broward high school students stage walkout in support of transgender student

Hundreds of students at Monarch High School staged a walkout during school hours Tuesday, one day after their principal and four other staff members were reassigned to non-school sites amid an investigation that a transgender student had been playing on the girls’ volleyball team. State law, called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, prohibits transgender female students from playing on women’s and girls’ sports teams. It does not affect transgender men playing on male teams.

READ MORE: Broward schools superintendent informed about transgender athlete by citizen tipster

The event, which lasted about a half hour, happened on school property and was peaceful.

Monarch High School students conduct a walkout on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 after the principal, James Cecil, and other staff members were removed from their positions pending an investigation. The reassignments occurred because a trans student had been playing volleyball at the school in Coconut Creek, Florida.
Monarch High School students conduct a walkout on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 after the principal, James Cecil, and other staff members were removed from their positions pending an investigation. The reassignments occurred because a trans student had been playing volleyball at the school in Coconut Creek, Florida.

The group congregated at the football field starting around noon before making their way to the fence at the parking lot on the north end of the school. Once there, they shouted chants including “Let her play,” “trans rights are human rights” and “Free Cecil now.” Cecil refers to Monarch principal James Cecil.

Alexandra Almeida, a senior at Monarch, said she heard about the walkout through social media Monday. “I saw a lot of my friends posting about what was happening and what was going on,” Almeida said, “and I decided that I wanted to go with them out there and be supportive.”

Almeida said she thought the five staff members to be reassigned was “ridiculous that it was happening in the first place” and hoped the walkout would “bring more awareness to the situation so that people see what’s happening in our Florida schools.”

Various forms of those messages were also written on signs students in the front of the pack held at the top of the fence as they spoke of their support for their principal and the student.

The other four employees who were reassigned: assistant principal Kenneth May, athletic director Dione Hester, information management technician Jessica Norton and temporary athletic coach Alex Burgess. Norton and Burgess are listed as the school’s girls’ volleyball coaches on the team’s MaxPreps site.

At a brief press conference Tuesday morning, Broward Schools Superintendent Peter Licata said he had heard some adults at the school wanted to start the walkout. He said the school district had reached out to staff there and to the Student Government Association about it.

“We understand, and we will always protect students,” he said. “I don’t know where it started from; I do know that we want to make sure students are safe.”