Gov. DeSantis will sign transgender student athletes’ sports bill: ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to protect our girls’

By: and - April 30, 2021 10:22 am

Gov. Ron DeSantis participated in a Fox News panel discussion on April 29, 2021, with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, and Laura Ingraham. Source: Screenshot/Fox News

Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to sign legislation that would bar transgender women from participating in women’s sports teams at public schools and universities.

He said so on Thursday night during a discussion with GOP governors broadcast on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“Oh, yeah, we’re going to protect our girls. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old daughter. They’re both very athletic, and we want to have opportunities for our girls. We want to have an even playing field,” the governor said.

Florida’s so-called “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” passed this week as a floor amendment to a charter schools bill, is sitting on DeSantis’ desk.

It bars girls and women from participating in women’s sports teams if their original birth certificates categorizes them as male. Men and boys may be open to students of the female sex relating to sports teams, according to the bill.

Supporters contend that “biological” males enjoy an unfair advantage over females and might even harm them during play.

The Legislature deleted language that would have allowed genital inspections to corroborate a prospective player’s gender.

The latest anti-trans discrimination movement originated in Idaho, based on model legislation from the Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group. Some 30 states have considered such laws this year.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination, but whether that logic would extend to school athletics remains untested.

The ACLU argues that such types of Florida legislation is unconstitutional and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged DeSantis to veto the bill.

The legislation could threaten Florida’s ability to host NCAA-sponsored tournaments, given a written statement that organization issued on April 12.

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the NCAA said.

“We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

The bill was approved by the GOP-controlled House and Senate, with most Democrats against the measure. It outlines the various situations in the bill:

“Athletic teams or sports designated for males, men, boys may be open to students of the female sex,” the bill language reads. This could allow transgender men to play on either men or women’s sports teams.

But the next line does not give transgender women the same option, saying that:  “Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.”

What this means is if this legislation becomes law, transgender women who are currently playing on the team that matches their gender identity will no longer be able to play with their peers, and will have to play on a team that instead lines up with the gender they were assigned at birth.

The legislation would create different standards for transgender men and transgender women. Since a men’s sports team “may be open to students of the female sex,” transmen could possibly play on either a women’s or man’s sports team.

However, transgender women could not play in women’s athletics, because those teams are not “open to students of the male sex.”

Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, sent a letter to DeSantis Friday, asking him veto the legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from the teams that align with their gender identity.

“Transgender kids are just kids,” Jones said in the letter to DeSantis. “Most people don’t know what it’s like to be transgender or to be the parent of a transgender child, but we can all agree that Florida’s transgender youth need love and support, not legislative attacks.”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.