Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Transgender Athlete Bill Into Law : NPR

In this file photo dated April 30, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a term in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. Wilfredo Lee / AP hide caption

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Wilfredo Lee / AP

In this file photo dated April 30, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a term in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

TALLAHASSEE, Florida – The Republican governor of Florida signed a law Tuesday banning transgender women from playing on public school teams designed for student athletes who were born as girls, plunging the state into the national culture war for transgender rights.

“In Florida, girls will play girls ‘sports and boys will play boys’ sports,” said Governor Ron DeSantis as he signed the bill at a private Christian academy in Jacksonville that would not be subject to the law. “We’ll make sure this is a reality.”

The new law, which is sure to be challenged as unconstitutional, sparked an already controversial discussion that unfolds at the national level as Republican-controlled states curtail the rights of LGBTQ people whose advocates were particularly upset that the law was on the first day of gay Pride month was signed.

The NCAA, which oversees college athletics, has said it has “a longstanding policy of providing a more inclusive avenue for transgender people to participate in college sports”. The NCAA currently requires that transgender women receive treatment to lower their testosterone levels before they can compete in women’s sports.

When Florida lawmakers considered the move in April, the NCAA said it would host championship games in “locations where hosts can commit to creating a safe, healthy, and non-discriminatory environment.”

High profile sporting events like soccer bowl games and basketball tournaments bring in millions of dollars for local communities.

The measure, approved by the GOP-led Legislature, comes into effect on July 1st. It states that a transgender student cannot attend without first showing a birth certificate stating that she was a girl when she was born. It is not clear whether all women are required to show their birth certificates or only those whose gender is requested. The proposal allows another student to sue if a school allows a transgender girl or woman to play on a team designed for biological women.

Political dispute over transgender rights focuses on youth sports

The final text of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act removed some of its most controversial elements, including the requirement that transgender athletes in high schools and colleges have testosterone or genetic tests and have their genitals examined.

But the law, signed by the governor, upholds a fundamental principle that advocates claim: Biological differences between men and women make it unfair for athletes identified as boys at birth to compete in teams for girls and women. The law would not prevent female athletes from playing on boys’ or men’s teams.

Human rights campaign president Alphonso David said the new law would not only harm transgender girls. “All Floridians will face the consequences of this anti-transgender legislation – including economic damage, expensive taxpayer-funded litigation, and a tarnished reputation.”

Democrats and LGBTQ advocates said the law was discriminatory and was being challenged in court as unconstitutional.

“This is another hateful attack by the governor and Republican lawmakers, and it is insulting that they held a photo op this morning on the first day of Pride Month,” said Senator Shevrin Jones. “After all, transgender kids are just kids.”

The ban was incorporated into a measure at the last minute of the legislature that allowed public universities and colleges to sponsor charter schools – a point the governor failed to mention when he signed the bill. It was the destination for transgender athletes that was the focus of rhetoric on Tuesday.

“This bill is simply about ensuring that women can safely compete, have opportunities, and excel physically in a sport that they have trained, prepared for, and worked for,” said Senator Kelli Stargel, a Republican woman getting for the bill.

“It’s not about anyone being discriminated against,” she said. “It’s just that women have the opportunity to compete in women’s sports.”

The Florida law reflects an Idaho law, the first of its kind when it was enacted last year, which is now facing legal challenges. GOP governors in Arkansas, and Mississippi Tennessee recently signed similar measures.

Efforts by Conservatives to curtail the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people have sparked numerous fights in key arenas – not just in parliaments and courtrooms, but across the economy, and critics warned of impending consequences.

According to a 2017 study by the Associated Press, North Carolina lost $ 3.8 billion over a dozen years on a so-called “bathroom bill”. Those losses were averted when a 2019 deal prevented the state from preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that matched their gender identity.

“Let me be very clear: In Florida we are going to do the right thing to stand up to the corporations, they are not going to dictate politics in this state,” said DeSantis, flanked by students from the religious school. “We’re going to stand up against groups like the NCAA who think they should be able to dictate the guidelines in different states. Not here, never. “

A Connecticut athlete, Selina Soule, approached the Florida governor at the press conference to discuss how she failed to advance in competitions because she competed against transgender athletes. She called it unfair.

That Soule was from another state had not escaped critics, who argued the matter was not urgent for Florida, noting that since its transgender participation policy was adopted in 2013, only 11 athletes have opted for screening at the Florida High School Athletic Association have applied.

“This is not out of necessity or necessity,” said Orlando Gonzales, executive director of SAVE, a gay advocacy group in South Florida, during a press conference. “This is really just to throw red meat out there, to really rally the base of people who are anti-LGBT.”

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