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Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Allowing Florida Transgender Teacher to Use Her Title and Pronouns at Work

TALLAHASSEE — On Tuesday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Florida education officials and the Hillsborough County School Board from taking any steps to enforce Florida Statute § 1000.071(3) (2023) (“subsection 3”) against plaintiff Katie Wood, a high school teacher.

Subsection 3 prohibits employees and contractors of Florida’s public K–12 schools from providing a student with titles or pronouns that “do not correspond” to the employee’s or contractor’s sex assigned at birth. A teacher who violates subsection 3 could lose their state license to teach.

“I am hopeful that this ruling will encourage those who feel powerless to stand up for themselves,” says Ms. Wood. “Where there is pain, there is power. And anything can happen when good people stand up together.”

Chief Judge Mark E. Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida held that Ms. Wood is substantially likely to succeed on the merits of her claim that subsection 3 violates her free speech right under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Once again, the state of Florida has a First Amendment problem,” Chief Judge Walker wrote. “[T]he question before this Court is whether the First Amendment permits the state to dictate, without limitation, how public-school teachers refer to themselves when communicating to students. The answer is a thunderous ‘no.’”

Quoting Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Chief Judge Walker affirms Wood’s right to define her own identity.

“In sharing her preferred title and pronouns, Ms. Wood celebrates herself and sings herself—not in a disruptive or coercive way, but in a way that subtly vindicates her identity, her dignity, and her humanity. Section 1000.071(3) has silenced her and, by silencing her, forced her to inhabit an identity that is not her own. The State of Florida has not justified this grave restraint, and so the United States Constitution does not tolerate it. Ours is a Union of individuals, celebrating ourselves and singing ourselves and being ourselves without apology,” the order concluded.

“A truly safe, supportive, and inclusive classroom should affirm all who enter. This ruling sends a strong, positive message to trans and nonbinary educators that their title and their identity are not mutually exclusive. No one should have to change or hide who they are to do the work they love. Katie Wood led by example, as the court agreed that her dedication to her students takes precedence,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “We are pleased that Ms. Wood can go on educating students in a safe space, where the only thing that matters is her commitment to the students.”

The plaintiffs in Wood et al. v. Florida Department of Education et al. are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Southern Legal Counsel, and Altshuler Berzon, LLP.

You can read the order HERE.


The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.  For more information, visit

Southern Legal Counsel is a Florida statewide not-for-profit public interest law firm that is committed to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic human and civil rights. SLC's Transgender Rights Initiative protects the rights of Florida's LGBTQ+ community through federal impact litigation, policy advocacy, and individual representation.

Altshuler Berzon, LLP is a law firm dedicated to providing the highest quality representation in the service of economic and social justice. It has extensive experience with civil rights, labor and employment, constitutional, and impact litigation, at both the trial and appellate levels.