Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis said he plans to sign legislation passed Wednesday that would bar male-to-female transgender athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s scholastic sports.
“Oh, yeah, we’re going to protect our girls,” Mr. DeSantis said at a televised town hall of red-state governors held by Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
If signed, the bill would make Florida the sixth state this year, and the seventh overall, to enact legislation preventing biological males from participating on female sports teams, either at the secondary school or college level, or both.
Idaho became last year the first state to approve such a law, which was blocked by a federal judge who issued a preliminary injunction pending the outcome of a legal battle.
“I have a four-year-old daughter and a one-year-old daughter, and they’re both very athletic,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We want to have opportunities for our girls. They deserve an even playing field, and that’s what we’re doing.”
More states could join them. A similar bill has reached Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk in Montana, and Republican governors in Iowa and Texas said Thursday that they would sign such legislation if passed by their state legislatures.
“I’m going to do what’s right for my state, I’m going to do what’s right for girls,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at the town hall. “I’m the mom of three daughters and the grandmother of three granddaughters who compete, and it’s the right thing to do. They should have the same opportunities.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that the University Interscholastic League in Texas already has rules in place requiring student-athletes to compete based on their biological sex.
“But the Texas legislature is working on a bill to codify that, which I will sign,” said Mr. Abbott.
DeSantis vows to sign bill barring transgender females from girls’ sports. pic.twitter.com/poRJBkleuH— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 30, 2021
The Florida bill excludes provisions considered earlier that would have included elementary-school sports and allowed medical genital inspections to verify a student’s sex.
Like the other state bills, the Florida measure only applies to female sports, meaning that female-to-male transgender athletes may compete in boys’ and men’s athletics.
Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David decried Thursday the passage of the “hateful” Florida bill and warned of economic consequences for states that pass such legislation.
“Ultimately, this bill will not just hurt transgender kids; it will hurt all Floridians because the consequences of this law — economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation — will ripple across the state,” said Mr. David in a statement.
Similar bills were vetoed earlier this month by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, who said there had been no example in his state of a transgender athlete seeking to join female teams and expressed confidence in the state’s scholastic athletic authority to handle the issue.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, vetoed a measure that would have applied to K-12 and university sports, but shortly thereafter signed an executive order barring transgender participation on female teams at the secondary-school level but not in college.
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