JACKSONVILLE, FL – Reports indicate that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a controversial bill into law that will prohibit male-to-female transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that do not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth, joining a number of other red states – including Arkansas and Mississippi – who have enacted similar laws.
“The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” would limit girl’s school sports teams to biological females only; DeSantis signed the bill at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville on Tuesday, saying that “In Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports, and boys are going to play boys’ sports,”
“[Sports] took me to college. It’s taken many of our girls to college, to be able to get an education and to compete. We believe that it is very important that the integrity of those competitions are preserved,” DeSantis said before signing the bill. “The bill that we’re doing today will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida. It says that athletic teams or sports that are designated for females are open to females, and we’re going to go based off biology, not based off ideology, when we’re doing sports.”
The law defines a student’s biological sex based on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth, DeSantis said, and he also noted that the law would even give students whose school allows a transgender athlete to participate on a girl’s team the ability to sue.
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“We’re also putting in statute ways to actually vindicate the rights of any women athletes who may be discriminated against. Moving forward, any student who’s deprived of an athletic opportunity as a result of a violation of this law will have a right to civil remedies,” DeSantis said.
Selina Soule, a student athlete from Connecticut who has been outspoken in the media regarding competing against transgender girls, spoke at the bill signing.
“A bad policy in my state of Connecticut has robbed me, my teammates as well as every other female track athlete in my state of the opportunity to compete on a level playing field,” she said.
In contrast, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried – a possible Democratic candidate for the Florida governor’s office in 2024 – decried the new law via a tweet.
“By signing a heartless ban on transgender kids in sports, @GovRonDeSantis is marginalizing an entire community,” she said. “Signing it on the first day of #Pride2021 is especially cruel. Florida should stand for inclusivity, equality, and liberty – not peddling hate for political points.”