By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Speaking at a private school in Jacksonville on the first day of Pride Month, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging education bill that includes a ban on transgender females participating on girls’ and women’s high-school and college sports teams.
The measure (SB 1028), one of the most-controversial bills of the 2021 legislative session, will make female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”
“I can tell you this, in Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports, and boys are going to play boys’ sports. That’s what we’re doing, and we’re going to make sure that that’s the reality,” DeSantis said, flanked by Republican lawmakers and student-athletes at Trinity Christian Academy.
Within an hour of DeSantis signing the bill, the Human Rights Campaign announced it intends to file a lawsuit challenging the new law.
“Gov. DeSantis and Florida lawmakers are legislating based on a false, discriminatory premise that puts the safety and well-being of transgender children on the line,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement.
Under the measure, which is set to go into effect July 1, student-athletes who contend they are “deprived of an athletic opportunity” because of violations of the law will be able to sue their schools or colleges.
“We’re not just setting a standard, we’re also providing ways where that fairness and the equality can be enforced on behalf of our girls and our women athletes,” DeSantis said.
The measure also sets up a potential showdown between colleges and universities that comply with the new law and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the main governing body for college sports.
In April, the NCAA issued a statement that said “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected” for such things as tournaments and championship events.
The new law would give colleges and universities a cause of action to file lawsuits “against the governmental entity, licensing or accrediting organization, or athletic association or organization” if they suffer “direct or indirect harm” related to violations of the law.
DeSantis took aim at the NCAA during the bill-signing event Tuesday.
“We will stand up to groups like the NCAA who think that they should be able to dictate the policies in different states. Not here, not ever,” DeSantis said.
During the legislative session, opponents of the bill pointed to lack of complaints in Florida about participation of transgender student-athletes in sports. At Tuesday’s event, Republicans enlisted the help of a student-athlete from Connecticut in trying to make the case for what’s dubbed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act.”
“Sports have always had separate rules to ensure fairness. Everyone should have the chance to participate in sports, but they need to compete where it’s most fair,” said Selina Soule, a track-and-field athlete who was part of a group that sued the governing body for Connecticut high-school sports.
Florida Senate Democrats, however, criticized the legislation as being purely political and not aimed at solving a real problem. The ban was added to a bill that largely focuses on charter schools in the waning days of the legislative session that ended April 30. A stand-alone bill on the transgender issue had earlier stalled in the Senate.
“By folding the transgender ban into the charter school legislation, Republicans in Tallahassee rejected both science and reason, openly attacking vulnerable LGBTQ+ children without a single shred of evidence that a problem even exists,” the Senate Democratic caucus said in a prepared statement.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, cited potential economic fallout if the NCAA decides to pull tournaments and championship games out of Florida.
“The consequences for states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws are clear — bigoted policies lead to major economic loss. Today, Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed ignorance to prevail and took our state backwards in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. We won’t forget it,” Eskamani said in a statement Tuesday.
The NCAA did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday from The News Service of Florida about whether future tournaments and championship games are at risk of being moved from the state.
DeSantis’ signing of the bill — and the timing — riled LGBTQ advocacy groups.
Equality Florida, which fought the bill during the legislative session, announced that a series of rallies will be held in the state to “fight back” and “protect trans kids.”
The governor was asked Tuesday about the message he was sending by signing the legislation on the first day of Pride Month.
“It’s not a message to anything other than saying we’re going to protect fairness in women’s sports,” DeSantis responded.
Thank You DeSantis. I fully support your common sense approach to life and respect for humanity as designed by our omniscient Creator. May your courage in the face of cancel culture be an inspiration to governors and leaders throughout our nation. Yes! Yes! Yes!
Govt should stay out of social issues. Protect our life and liberty. I’ll do the rest.
This says it all,,,“It’s not a message to anything other than saying we’re going to protect fairness in women’s sports,” DeSantis responded.
First of all, there is no such thing as a “transgender” person. It’s a made up term designed to ease the guilt and emotional distress experienced by those individuals who suffer from the science-supported and psychology-based mental disorder known as Gender Dysphoria. Such individuals should never be harmed, targeted, or discriminated against due to their disorder… but neither should they – or anyone else – be forced to pretend it is normal or be indoctrinated to believe it is. It is antithetical to nature and the natural order of life itself. That being said, there is a way to put an end to this transwhatever sports dilemma, and it it this…
Simply demand that the Congress pass a law that requires the dissolution of all professional female sports entities. From the WNBA, to the NWSL, to the LPGA, and all female designated Olympic Sports teams, et al… In addition, require by that same law that all professional male sports entities such as the NBA, NSL, PGA, NTA, and all male designated Olympic Sports teams, eta l… assimilate those female sports professionals into their entities and onto their teams – and – guarantee them equal playing time and pay. Force these alt-left NaziCrat lunatics to support such an action, or defend their opposition to such an action. I wonder what the NBA clowns and their CCP comrades would say about that… what say you LaWhine Blames?
… problem solved and transwhatever sports nonsense stopped in its tracks.
You go boy…