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

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill into law Tuesday limiting transgender students’ participation in school sports.

The bill, deemed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” prohibits transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. It goes into effect July 1.

READ: Florida House passes bill to ban transgender females from competing in girls’ and women’s sports

“Girls are going to play girl sports and boys are going to play boy sports,” DeSantis said during a news conference at Trinity Christian Academy Tuesday.

The ban, which was tacked on to a charter school bill in the final hours of the legislative session, requires students to play sports according to the gender on their birth certificate.

READ: Florida House set to take up ban on transgender athletes in girls’ athletics

The signing came on the first day of Pride Month. When asked during the news conference what message the timing sends to Florida’s LGBTQ+ community, DeSantis said there was no message other than protecting the integrity of women’s athletics.

Lawmakers admit that has not been an issue in Florida, but say isolated examples from other states are concerning.

These types of bans have been denounced by the NCAA and families of transgender students. The NCAA has indicated it will pull events from states with such bans, although no events have been pulled from Florida as of yet.

Moments after the bill was signed, Rep. Anna Eskamani sent out a statement calling the legislation “bigoted” and “transphobic.”

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“Transgender youth deserve our love and support, not cruel attacks because of who they are,” Eskamani said in the statement. “The consequences for states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws are clear — bigoted policies lead to major economic loss. Today Governor Ron DeSantis allowed ignorance to prevail and took our state backwards in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. We won’t forget it.”

Central Florida State Sen. Vic Torres’ granddaughter is transgender. He said he opposes the law.

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“She just wants to have the opportunity to do things as other children as other girls do,” Torres said.

Equal rights groups have indicated that they will file a lawsuit challenging the law, saying it violates the 14th Amendment and Title IX.

Read reaction from other state lawmakers below:

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.