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Gov. DeSantis signs bill banning transgender athletes from women’s sports

FILE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Universal Studios Wednesday,...
FILE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Universal Studios Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. The Universal Studios theme park reopened today for season pass holders and will open to the general public on Friday. Bars and theme parks will be part of Florida's Phase 2 reopening after closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/John Raoux)(John Raoux | AP)
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 10:29 AM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WCTV/CNS) - Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at educational institutions across the state.

The governor signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” during a press conference at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville Tuesday morning.

“Girls are going to play girls’ sports, and boys are going to play boys’ sports,” DeSantis said.

You can watch the press conference, which aired live on the WCTV Facebook page, below or at this link.

Gov. DeSantis expected to sign 'Fairness in Women's Sports Act'

LIVE: Gov. Ron DeSantis is holding a press conference in Jacksonville. He is expected to sign the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act" into law.

Posted by WCTV.tv on Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The new law makes female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

During the bill signing, the governor played a video of two trans athletes in Connecticut as evidence the policy is needed.

He also brought Selina Soule, a female athlete who competed against the trans-women in Connecticut.

She said she was deprived of a fair chance to compete.

“These two athletes won 15 women’s championship titles,” said Soule. “They set 17 new individual meet records. Records which we girls had no hope of breaking.”

Bill sponsors Rep. Kaylee Tuck and Sen. Kelli Stargel also spoke at the press conference, praising the legislation as a victory for women competing in sports.

“This is nothing about anybody being discriminated against,” Stargel said. “It’s solely so that women have an opportunity to compete in women’s sports.”

Florida’s Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement regarding the signing of SB 1028.

“By folding the transgender ban into the charter school legislation, Republicans in Tallahassee rejected both science and reason, openly attacking vulnerable LGBTQ+ children without a single shred of evidence that a problem even exists. Not once has there been an incident or complaint in our State alleging that a transgender athlete’s participation unfairly impacted middle school, high school or college athletic competition. Florida’s elected leaders could better serve all our youth by understanding and taking action on the high incidences of bullying, violence, and suicidal tendencies that happen to them across this state every day, and trans youth should have no less focus. The language denigrating trans youth incorporated in this bill shows how little the Republican-led legislature regards equal treatment for all our young people.”

Opponents of the policy, like Democratic State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, said the law will deprive transgender women the opportunity to compete as their true selves.

“It erases her identity as a transgender female,” said Smith.

Transgender advocates also took particular note of the date the Governor picked to sign the bill into law.

“On the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month Governor DeSantis decided to use the power of his office to send a message of exclusion to vulnerable transgender youth,” said Smith.

The Human Rights Campaign has already vowed to sue in hopes of quashing the new law, but DeSantis maintains the policy is not intended to discriminate.

“It’s not a message to anything other than saying we’re going to protect fairness in women’s sports,” said DeSantis.

The governor also scoffed at threats made by the NCAA to pull championship games from states that enact trans-athlete bans, saying if that’s the price of ensuring fair competition for girls, he’d choose fair competition every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

The NCAA offered this statement when we asked if it intends to carry through with its threats to pull championship games out of Florida:

“NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

You can read the bill’s text at this link.

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