On June 1, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis became the latest governor to protect the rights of girls and women competing in athletics, by signing a bill into law — the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” — which prohibits biological men from competing against female athletes.
Florida became the eighth state to protect female athletes from being forced to compete against biological men.
“We believe in the state of Florida, of protecting the fairness and the integrity of women’s athletics,” DeSantis said. “And I can tell you this in Florida, you know, girls are going to play girl’s sports and boys are going play boy’s sports, that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality. So the bill that we’re doing today will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida. It says that athletic teams or sports that are designated for females are open to females. And we’re going to go based off biology.”
The fight over fairness in sports is just beginning, and the U.S. Secretary of Education has now thrown his hat into the ring.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told ESPN that the Biden administration will step in from the federal level to protect students’ civil rights if need be and that transgender girls have a “right to compete.”
“I do believe in local control. I do believe in state control, but we do have a responsibility to protect the civil rights of students. And if we feel the civil rights are being violated, we will act,” Cardona said. “Our LGBTQ students have endured more harassment than most other groups. It’s critically important that we stand with them and give them opportunities to engage in what every other child can engage in without harassment.”
Cardona replaced former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in January and has a completely different outlook on transgender athletes’ participation in sports.
“It’s their right as a student to participate in these activities. And we know sports does more than just put ribbons on the first-, second- and third-place winner,” Cardona continued. “We know that it provides opportunities for students to become a part of a team, to learn a lot about themselves, to set goals and reach them, and to challenge themselves. Athletics provides that in our K-12 systems and in our colleges, and all students deserve an opportunity to engage in that.”
Cardona’s stance could lead to a new conflict between federal and local government.
In April, the NCAA put out a statement on transgender participation, stating that they will only hold championship events where “hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.
The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.
DeSantis spoke on the NCAA’s stance on Fox News after signing the new bill into law.
“You can’t be cowed by these organizations, or particularly by woke corporations from doing the right thing. And so my view was throughout this whole time, we have to protect our girls, it is discriminatory to force them to compete against biological males,” DeSantis continued. “And so if the price of having a tournament is that I have to deny equal opportunity to hundreds of thousands of young girls and women athletes throughout Florida, I am much more willing to stand with the girls. And to hell with these events.”