Florida Republicans resurrected a ban on transgender women from competing in women’s sports and attached it to a bill related to charter schools. Last week, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-22) said her bill, which would’ve banned transgendered athletes from women’s sports, was unlikely to move forward due to constitutional requirements to balance the budget.
However, Stargel did not resurrect the bill, but Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-55), added the ban as an amendment to SB 1028. Stargel did voice her support for Tuck’s amendment.
“I feel that the safety of our girls to be able to play in girls’ sports without potentially being harmed by a much stronger man, who may be playing on that sport, or whether it’s a transition female that may still be stronger,” Stargel said.
The bill with the amendment was passed largely along party lines in both chambers, with Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-25) joining mostly Democrats in opposition to the bill. Governor Ron DeSantis has not given any indication if he will sign the legislation.
Unlike Stargel’s bill, Tuck’s amendment does not include elementary school students and does not require physical examinations for the athletes to determine their gender. But the gender of the athlete will be based on their birth certificate.
Democrats and LGBTQ advocates were frustrated with the last-minute attempt by Republicans to pass the ban before the end of session later today.
“In the 11th hour of the 2021 legislative session, Florida lawmakers are still hellbent on passing this discriminatory bill,” said Gina Duncan, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality. “Despite hearing the voices of trans kids and their families time and time again, extremists in the legislature have made it their mission to make trans children pawns in their culture war. Now, instead of being open about their bigotry, they are negotiating the future of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in smoke-filled back rooms and attempting to attach this amendment to a completely unrelated bill.”
“I do have a more important message for transgender kids across Florida and everywhere. You are LOVED. You are PERFECT just the way you are. Don’t ever change. WE SUPPORT YOU!” 🏳️⚧️ #LetKidsPlay pic.twitter.com/P7sPV8Hp6l
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) April 29, 2021
Republican supporters of the bill, like Sen. Keith Perry (R-8), said the bill was a “pro-female, pro-woman bill.”
This bill comes after a controversy in Connecticut in 2018 after parents expressed outrage when two transgender females took top prizes in the high school state track and field championships.
Some social media critics said they felt bad for the other competitors who, they said, were at an unfair disadvantage.
“These girls worked hard only to be cheated because science deniers allowed two boys to steal what they worked so hard for,” said a Twitter user.
Three Connecticut students subsequently filed a lawsuit over a policy allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports based on gender identity. The suit claims boys are displacing girls in track events in Connecticut and is discriminatory on the basis of sex – a violation of Title IX.
Transgender activists in Florida have warned of the political consequences of signing the legislation as well as the threat from the NCAA of pulling championships out of Florida based on the bill.
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