Florida Tees Up NCAA Clash With New Transgender Athlete Law (1)

  • Seven states enacted transgender athlete bans this year
  • LGBTQ advocacy group plans to challenge Florida’s law

(Adds Human Rights Campaign response beginning in sixth paragraph.)

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Florida joined a half-dozen other states in banning transgender athletes from playing on girls’ or women’s sports teams, under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday.

Choosing to “protect our young girls” was worth potentially losing opportunities to host some sporting events in Florida, DeSantis said at a bill signing ceremony at a Christian school in Jacksonville, Fla. The NCAA Board of Governors warned in an April statement that championships could be pulled from locations unless “hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”

Florida’s bill (S.B. 1028) also pushes back the date when college athletes may be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness. However, DeSantis said he will sign separate legislation restoring that date to July 1, 2021, as set by legislators last year.

DeSantis was joined by Selina Soule, who filed a federal lawsuit in 2020 as a high school senior asking a court to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports in Connecticut public schools. Soule and other plaintiffs are appealing a judge’s dismissal of their complaint in April.

Florida joins six other states that have enacted similar laws this year. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in May regarding a 2020 ban in Idaho.

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, plans to sue the state of Florida to challenge the law. Alphonso David, the group’s president, said Tuesday that the new state laws are “fueling a wave of violence against the transgender community.”

David said details of the complaint would be forthcoming although he declined to discuss specifics.

Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington also contributed to this story.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyle Trygstad at ktrygstad@bgov.com; Heather Rothman at hrothman@bgov.com; Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com

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