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School Volleyball Coach Suspended for Allowing Her Trans Son to Play on Girls’ Team

A Florida public school employee who faces firing because she allowed him transgender son to play girls’ high school volleyball hit out at the investigators who outed her child – claiming they destroyed her life.

Jessica Norton said her son was thriving at Monarch High School in Fort Lauderdale before an anonymous tipster notified a Broward County school board member in November that the 16-year-old was playing on the girls’ varsity volleyball team in apparent violation of state law.

That tip launched a widespread investigation, that has resulted in Norton being suspended from her job as an information management specialist at Monarch High School. She now also faces possible termination for allowing her child to play on the girls’ team.

She stood before school district officials on Tuesday to plead her case, and claimed the investigation has ruined her child’s life.

Norton described how her son had been elected both freshman and sophomore class president, was selected the student body’s director of philanthropy and was even a homecoming princess.

That all ended when the investigation began, and her son was forced to leave Monarch.

‘They destroyed her high school career and her lifelong memories,’ Norton said.

‘I saw the light in my daughter’s eyes gleam with future plans of organizing and attending prom, participating in and leading senior class traditions, speaking at graduation and going off to college with the confidence and joy that any student like her would after a successful and encouraging high school experience. And 203 days ago, I watched as that life was extinguished.’

The boy now attends school online.

None of the board’s nine members responded to Norton, a seven-year district employee who doubled as a volunteer coach and received stellar evaluations before the tip in November.

Under Florida’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, it is illegal for biological males to compete in women’s sports.

It adds that ‘a statement of a student’s biological sex on the student’s official birth certificate is considered to have correctly stated the student’s biological sex at birth.’

The Nortons are now serving as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit trying to block the act. A federal judge upheld the ban on November 7, but allowed the family to refile.

At around the same time, school board member Daniel Foganholi contacted the district’s police department after he received the tip, according to the district’s investigative report.

Broward schools then assigned two officers to investigate the tip, and the state education department also appointed an investigator.

They pulled school records for Norton’s son and locked them in a vault.

They also interviewed officials at Monarch and at the son’s middle and elementary schools, seeking to find out who knew the boy was transgender and when and how him records were changed.

And, they interviewed Norton and three Monarch volleyball players.

As part of the investigation, Norton, who has two older children, told police she enrolled her youngest child in kindergarten as a boy in 2013, four years before she began working for the district.

The child then transitioned to a girl in first grade. She said other parents and children knew, so it has never been a complete secret.

By the time the child was in second grade, Norton said she asked a school employee to change the child’s gender on her school records.

She said then-Superintendent Robert Runcie told her that was the procedure.

But the district says such changes are only allowed if the parent first gets the child’s birth certificate amended, and the child’s birth certificate wasn’t amended until 2021 – after Norton started working with the district.

After learning about the policy, district officials argue, Norton should have requested in 2017 that her child’s gender be changed back to male on her records.

But Norton told investigators she didn’t because the amended records are accurate — her child is a girl.

She noted that her child began taking puberty blockers at age 11 and takes estrogen but has not had gender-affirming surgery.

Norton also admitted she knew the new state law barred transgender girls from playing girls’ sports when her son entered high school in 2022.

When detectives asked her why she then let her son play volleyball and why she marked ‘female’ on a permission form that asked the child’s ‘sex at birth.’

‘Because she’s my child and she wanted to play,’ Norton told them, insisting that her child did not have any athletic advantages over the other girls’ on the team.

Investigators also questioned then-Monarch Principal James Cecil, asking him to describe the child, to which he replied: ‘She looks like a girl to me. … she seems very small, very skinny.’

And when investigators interviewed the Monarch volleyball players, they noted that the team did not change clothes or shower together, so they were never disrobed with Norton’s son.

All three said they knew or suspected Norton’s son is transgender, but it didn’t bother them that he was on the team.

‘I didn’t really have a problem with it because I didn’t think she was a threat or anything to anyone else,’ one girl told investigators.

The investigation has since cleared Cecil, Assistant Principal Kenneth May and Athletic Director Dione Hester of any wrongdoing.

Alex Burgess, a volleyball coach who was not considered a district employee, was also cleared – as were three current or former employees at the middle school the child attended, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

The state’s athletic commission, meanwhile fined the school $16,500.

But while investigators have cleared Norton of changing her child’s gender in the school computers – and instead asking another staff member to do so – they say she used her position as an information specialist to change her child’s name in the system.

The Broward County School District had been scheduled to vote Tuesday on Superintendent Howard Hepburn’s recommendation that Norton be fired, but that decision has been delayed at least a month.

A district committee recommended that Norton receive a 10-day suspension, but Hepburn overrode it, refusing to say why. The board could fire Norton, suspend her or do nothing.

READ 23 COMMENTS
  • James Leamons says:

    “Boo hoo. Everybody but me ruined MY life.” Hey lady, YOU RUINED YOUR SON. You get to live with that…

  • See more says:

    Fire her. It’s illegal in Florida and many other states. She don’t like it, let her move out of Florida and go to some stupid state that allows it.

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