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DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Males from Female High School, College Sports

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Gov. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) speaks during CPAC in Orlando, Fla., February 26, 2021. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

During a press conference Tuesday, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that bans transgender athletes from competing in women’s and girls’ sports.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which the Republican-dominated Florida state legislature passed in April, bars males from competing against females in high school and college athletics regardless of their professed gender identity. The bill gives students the power to file a lawsuit against a school that allows transgender women to play on female teams.

“We believe it’s very important that the integrity of those competitions are preserved, that these opportunities are protected. In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” DeSantis said at the press conference.

“We’re going to go based off biology not ideology when we’re doing sports,” he continued.

A number of other states, including Idaho, Montana, and West Virginia, have enacted similar policies, citing the unfairness in competition experienced by girls who play against biological males with a physical advantage.

Certain prominent Republican governors, namely Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Doug Burgum of North Dakota, have vetoed their state’s respective transgender bills so as to avoid expensive litigation, discrimination in hosting tournaments, and corporate bullying from athletic conferences and organizations such as the NCAA. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas also shot down her state’s version, using similar justification related to potential cost as well as mention of promoting “inclusivity,”despite the bill gaining enough support to advance through both chambers. Kansas Republicans subsequently failed to override the veto.

DeSantis’ action comes amid a new drive among female athletes to demand fairness and equal opportunity in their sports. USAToday recently modified the published personal testimony of a female athlete, who lost major titles to transgender competitors, to exclude “hurtful language.”

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