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Florida Bans Transgender Girls from School Sports

Tabatha Wethal

Florida's Republican governor on Tuesday signed a restrictive law banning transgender girls and women from participating in women's and girls' scholastic sports.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed the bill at the Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, claims the ban is a way to protect the integrity of women's and girls' sports. The Miami Herald reported that the law would prohibit an athlete from competing in school-sponsored girls' and women’s sports if the athlete was not assigned the female gender at birth. Elementary school athletes are not included in the ban.

"In Florida, girls are going to play girls' sports, and boys are going to play boys' sports," DeSantis said.

Equal rights advocates and many transgender people who opposed the ban have argued the bill is an effort to score political points by further alienating transgender people.

Before DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1028 into law, major scholastic sports governing bodies — the Florida High School Athletic Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association — already had policies in place governing the participation of transgender athletes.

The same day that DeSantis signed the bill, the LGBTQ civil rights group the Human Rights Campaign said it planned to sue the state.

“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,” Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a statement. "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."

At times, it appeared the transgender athlete ban had little chance to become law. But on the third-to-last day of the regular lawmaking session, legislators resurrected the policy by attaching it to SB 1028, a bill about charter schools.

On Tuesday, equal rights advocates decried the policy, which has become a national conservative rallying cry.

"These bills were a carefully orchestrated culture war that was unleashed in over 30 states across the country," said Gina Duncan, a transgender woman and the director of transgender equality with the advocacy group Equality Florida, at a news conference. "These bills were all structured to achieve one thing: to demonize and discriminate against transgender Americans."

Equal rights advocates also noted the timing of the bill's signing; June 1 is the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month.

Florida is scheduled to host more than 40 regional or national championships through May 2026, and it’s not clear if those events will be affected. A spokeswoman for the NCAA did not immediately respond to the Miami Herald’s requests for comment.

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