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House passes transgender athlete bill

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A bill that would prohibit transgender athletes from competing with biological female athletes was passed by the Florida House of Representatives on April 14 by a 77 to 40 margin. The vote took place just two days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) issued a statement on their position regarding transgender athletes and factors considered by the NCAA in determining where championships are held.

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The statement said in part, “The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports… When determining where championships are held, 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.”

Sponsored by Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-Lake Placid), HB 1475, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, requires that athletic teams or sports be expressly designated as for males, men or boys; females, women or girls, or coed or mixed. It also requires that teams or sports designated for females must not be open to “students of the male sex.”

Under the bill, any dispute regarding a student’s biological sex would be resolved by a health examination and consent form signed by the student’s personal health care provider.

Similar legislation SB 2012 remains pending in the Florida Senate.

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Since their introduction, both bills have drawn fire from some advocacy groups who claim that the proposed legislation puts transgender youth at greater risk for discrimination and even violence.

Meanwhile, similar legislation has been introduced in more than 25 other states and was passed by the South Dakota legislature. That measure went unsigned by that state’s governor allegedly on grounds that the state could be locked out of national NCAA-sanctioned tournaments.

The loss of Florida’s 50 NCAA tournaments could cost the state an estimated $75 million over the next five years.

The legislation moved to the Florida Senate for consideration this week, where it has seemingly come to a standstill.  The Senate Bill’s sponsor is Kelli Stargel who serves as the Senate Appropriations Chairwoman.   According to The News Service of Florida, she said she will need to devote the remaining time left in the Legislative session to negotiation of the state budget with House leaders.  She expressed in a prepared statement that they continue to work on the legislation, but doesn’t think there will be sufficient time to revisit the issue this session. “We want to get there in a manner that respects the inherent dignity of each person, while at the same time acknowledging the fact that the biological differences between men and women can be significant, and can vary based on how far along a person is within their transition,” said Stargel.


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