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Mom of transgender athlete says family has received outpouring of support, but lost their privacy

Scott Travis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The family of the transgender student at the center of a controversy involving Monarch High’s girls volleyball team has received both of an “outpouring of support” and a loss of privacy, her mom said Monday.

Jessica Norton, an information management specialist at the school, publicly identified herself as the mother of the girl for the first time Monday, through a statement from the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights group that has provided legal representation to the family.

“The outpouring of love and support from our community this past week has been inspiring, selfless and brave,” Norton said in a statement. “Watching our community’s resistance and display of love has been so joyous for our family — the light leading us through this darkness. I want everyone to know that we see you, and we are so grateful for you.”

She added, “A lot of things were taken from my family this week — our privacy, sense of safety, and right to self-determination.”

Norton also is one of several school officials who were reassigned from Monarch High, pending the outcome of an investigation. The district’s Special Investigative Unit is reviewing whether school officials allowed Norton’s daughter to violate a 2021 state law that bans students who are born male from playing on girls’ teams.

District spokesman John Sullivan said he expects the investigation to be complete in about 2½ months, or by late February, ensuring the employees receive due process.

 

The reassignments of four employees prompted two days of student walkouts last week. Many of the students voiced support for Norton’s daughter, chanting messages such as, “Let her serve.”

A fifth school official, head volleyball coach Alex Burgess, isn’t a district employee, but won’t be allowed to coach in the district until the investigation concludes. He told the South Florida Sun Sentinel he didn’t know the athlete was transgender.

The mom said in her statement that her child was outed, a term that can refer to people’s LGBTQ status being revealed against their will. While the student was not named publicly by the district or in news articles, her identity has become well known at the school since the district announced the investigation last week, according to people at the school.

“There is a long history in this country of outing people against their will — forced outing, particularly of a child, is a direct attempt to endanger the person being outed,” Norton said. “We kindly ask everyone to respect our family’s privacy, and to give our family the space we need to speak to our experience on our own terms and timeline.”

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