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“In Florida, girls will play girls ‘sports and boys will play boys’ sports,” DeSantis said at a private school in Jacksonville.
The Republican governor signed the bill Tuesday, highlighting a well-known example of Connecticut transgender high school sprinters beating their competition on the track.
DeSantis, flanked on stage by student athletes from Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy, streamed a video of transgender athlete Terry Miller winning a race in 2019, then introduced one of her competitors, Selina Soule, to target the audience. Soule, a Connecticut high school athlete who has spoken out against competing transgender athletes, told the crowd that her experience of losing to transgender girls was “frustrating” and “demoralizing.”
DeSantis has signed a number of conservative-leaning bills from the GOP-led legislature into law, including measures to enforce big tech, relax Covid restrictions, and tighten the law, ahead of his re-election and possible running for the White House in 2024 Voting rules.
Approximately 11 transgender athletes have applied since 2013-14 under the Florida High School Athletic Association’s eligibility policy, which allows students to exercise regardless of the gender stated on their birth certificate. Democrats tried to use this rule as an example that the Florida law was unnecessary. The only state instance of transgender athletes that lawmakers could refer to during the session was bowling.
The Democrats quickly noticed Tuesday how DeSantis signed the bill on the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month, a move described as “particularly cruel” by Democratic Agriculture Commissioner and likely 2022 gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried.
“By signing a heartless ban on sports for transgender children, Governor DeSantis is marginalizing an entire community,” Fried said in a statement. “Florida should stand for inclusiveness, equality and freedom – not sell hate for political points.”
When asked, DeSantis said the timing behind the signing of the law had nothing to do with Pride Month.
“It’s no other message than saying that we will protect fairness in women’s sports,” said DeSantis.
Shortly after DeSantis signed the measure, the human rights campaign promised to challenge the legislation in court, claiming it was “driven by discriminatory intent, not based on fact”. The American Civil Liberties Union is questioning a similar bill recently passed by lawmakers in West Virginia.