Remaining on the cutting edge of conservatism, public policy, and Title IX protections, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ensures girls and women in Florida sports will not have to compete with transgender females who were biologically born male, even in the face of lawsuits or cancel culture calls.
He signed into law Tuesday the Fairness in Women's Sports Act, which bans transgender athletes in girls and women’s sports from middle school through college, including intramural competitions in the state.
"We're going to go based off biology, not based off ideology when we're doing sports," DeSantis said during Tuesday's press conference at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. "The bill defines a student's biological sex based on the student's official birth certificate at the time of birth.
"And as part of the bill we're signing today, we're not only making sure women have opportunities for scholarships and competition at the highest level, we're also putting in statute ways to actually vindicate the rights of any women athletes who may be discriminated against."
DeSantis added the act gives girls who are discriminated against "the right to civil remedies," and also gives schools and sports teams the ability to pursue civil lawsuits in the event they are subjected to opposition for following the law.
"In Florida, we're going to do what's right," DeSantis said. "We'll stand up to corporations. They're not going to dictate the policies in this state. We will stand up to groups like the NCAA that think they should be able to dictate the policies in different states.
"Not here, not ever."
DeSantis tweeted Tuesday after a press conference announcing the ban:
"The Fairness in Women's Sports Act will empower Florida women & girls to be able to compete on a level playing field. This will help ensure that opportunities for things like college scholarships will be protected for female athletes for years to come."
The ban will face a legal challenge from the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBTQ rights.
"This upcoming lawsuit in Florida to be filed by the Human Rights Campaign comes amid a rash of anti-transgender sports ban legislation being taken up and passed in states across the country," the HRC statement read. "Today's bill signing by Gov. DeSantis took place on the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month and within 12 days of the anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida."
HRC President Alphonso David called the ban "discriminatory," suggesting legislation to protect fairness for biologically born girls and females gets in the way of transgender rights.
"Lawmakers across the country who support these bills have failed to provide examples of any issue in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth, laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discriminatory intent and not supported by fact," the HRC statement continued.
The statement does not acknowledge the lawsuits of Connecticut high school girls who have filed federal lawsuits, claiming lost opportunities to compete in fair competition and potentially lost scholarship opportunities in college, a foundation of the Title IX protections in the U.S. Constitution.
"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," the HRC statement continued.
"Transgender kids are kids; transgender girls are girls. Like all children, they deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends and be a part of a team. Transgender youth must not be deprived of the opportunity to learn important skills of sportsmanship, healthy competition, and teamwork."
DeSantis made very clear transgender females are not banned from sports, but are merely going to be held to compete in the sport of their biologically born gender.
"We think it's really important that the integrity of those competitions are preserved, that these opportunities are protected," DeSantis said. "I can tell you 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 that's the reality.
The competing interests in girls and transgender rights in sports will likely head to the courts before Congress is called to weigh in to define the playing field for girls and women's sports.
DeSantis warned against corporations or activists defying the law, noting they might even be effective in dealing setbacks for opportunities for females in sports.
"If the price of that is we lose an event or two, I would prefer to protect our girls every day of the week and twice on Sunday," DeSantis concluded.
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