Florida Passes Bill on Transgender Sports Ban

Written on 05/07/2021
Staff Columnist

Florida congress has passed a bill to ban transgender athletes from women's and girls' sports in schools – and if Governor Ron DeSantis signs it, Florida will become the biggest state to do so, Aljazeera reported.

"Republicans followed their marching orders to implement this orchestrated culture war against the transgender community," Gina Duncan, a director at Florida Equality, an LGBTQ equal rights advocacy group, told Aljazeera.

There were "impassioned pleas by legislators, who have gay and transgender kids and grandkids, imploring them to understand the harm this bill does", Duncan continued.

The proposed law will stop athletes assigned male at birth to play in women's and girl's sports.

Republicans legislators who voted for the ban claimed it was to 'protect fairness in women's competitions,' according to Aljazeera.

The Florida state Senator, Kelli Stargel, said it was to ensure "women are going to play with other women that have the same physiological make-up."

"I know it's unfortunate for the number of students who are transgender, but we are doing this so that women have the opportunity to participate, to get scholarships, to excel with other women of like strength capabilities," Stargel stated, according to Aljazeera.

Across the world, similar bills have come up and are being considered in 30 states.

These anti-transgender laws were started by Republicans in Tennesee, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and Arkansas earlier this year. The Montana governor also has a transgender bill waiting for his signature. In South Dakota, the Republican governor vetoed a trans ban but issued a similar executive order.

"These bills that are sweeping the country attacking the transgender community are basically throwing red meat at a particular ideology in preparation for the elections of 2022," Duncan said.

"State lawmakers should be focused on passing laws to protest American's livelihoods, not threatening to pass laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people," said Kasey Suffredini, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, a national LGBTQ rights advocacy campaign that helped organise the business statement.

Many Florida schools had implemented guidelines for including transgender athletes, and 11 students currently compete under those rules.

"We already have rules in place that allow everyone to be able to play. And we have had no complaints," she told Al Jazeera.

Aljazeera said these new laws will most likely generate court suits under federal anti-discrimination laws. There is another sports ban in Idaho that was passed in 2020, but it is on hold pending a federal court ruling to decide how legal it is.

On the other hand, in February, the Biden administration pulled the U.S. government out of supporting a lawsuit in Connecticut raised by women athletes seeking to stop transgender competitors. 

Last week, a U.S. judge dismissed the lawsuit saying but didn't address the substantive merits of the case. The plaintiffs planned to appeal.

Aljazeera noted that President Biden prohibited gender discrimination based on sex or identity in federal policy and reversed a Trump ban on transgender people serving in the military.

"Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports," Biden's policy stated.