Florida's DeSantis signs law prohibiting transgender athletes from competing in female sports

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law on Tuesday limiting girls’ sports at public schools to biological girls.

“[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 he signed the bill at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla.

“In Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports, and boys are going to play boys’ sports,” he said. “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 bill defines a student’s biological sex based on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth.”

The proposal also would allow another student to sue if a school allows a transgender girl or woman to play on a team intended for biological females.

“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.

Connecticut student athlete Selina Soule, who has become somewhat of an activist on this issue, spoke at DeSantis’s signing on Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Winter Haven, Fla., on Monday, April 19, 2021, surrounded by law enforcement, legislators, and police union representatives, to sign a bill to create tougher penalties for people who participate in violent protests. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

“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,” Soule said.

The Florida High School Association allows “all eligible students should have the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s birth certificate and/or records.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is viewed as a potential Democratic contender for governor, blasted DeSantis over the new law.

“By signing a heartless ban on transgender kids in sports, @GovRonDeSantis is marginalizing an entire community. 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,” she wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Arkansas, Mississippi and other red states that have taken legislative action to limit transgender athletes in girls’ sports say they are ready to defend their laws in court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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