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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Equality Florida, HRC condemn Florida House passage of trans sports ban
--From a press release
2021-04-15

This article shared 768 times since Thu Apr 15, 2021
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Tallahassee, FL - The Florida House has voted 77-40 to ban transgender girls from playing sports alongside their peers. The vote comes just hours after transgender students and advocates held a press conference in the Florida Capitol highlighting the disparate impacts of discrimination on the transgender community and underscoring how these bills threaten the state's economic recovery from COVID-19. Despite fierce bipartisan opposition from lawmakers across the country, professional and collegiate sporting organizations including the Miami HEAT and Misfits Gaming Group, world-renowned athletes, faith leaders, legal scholars, medical professionals, over 65 major corporations, and the very experts that bill sponsors cite as justification, the ban now heads to the Senate where its companion (SB 2012) has one remaining committee stop.

"All eyes are on the Florida Senate to stop this cruel legislation and protect the transgender youth this bill vilifies," said Jon Harris Maurer, Public Policy Director for Equality Florida. "If this bill passes, it would be the first anti-LGBTQ bill to pass the Florida Legislature in 23 years and could send shockwaves through an economic recovery dependent on conventions, events, sports, and tourism. We know this is a nationally-coordinated attack fueled by far right anti-LGBTQ organizations, and the Florida House has taken the bait. The Florida Senate must hear the voices of transgender kids and reject this state-sanctioned discrimination."

"This legislation has no basis in facts, and legislators across the country have neglected to name any examples of the sky falling based on transgender athletes' participation in youth sports," said Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. "That's because those examples simply don't exist, and athletic organizations have welcomed transgender athletes' participation for years without incident. Anti-equality legislators should realize that while there is no problem here, there are serious issues that need addressing in Florida, like the pandemic and its economic impact. They should focus on addressing the challenges that are actually facing Florida and leave transgender kids alone."

House Democrats, led by LGBTQ members State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD-49) and Representative Michele Rayner-Goolsby (HD-70), waged a heroic, hours-long effort on Tuesday to illustrate the inevitable damage of this bill, filing 19 amendments to the bill during its second reading. Proposed amendments ranged from codifying the current policies for transgender athlete inclusion from the NCAA and Florida High School Athletics Association, eliminating forced genital inspections of school-age children, allowing for birth certificates as proof of gender identity, and blocking the use of public funds to cover an inevitable legal challenge should the bill pass. All were defeated, largely along party lines.

On Monday, the NCAA released a statement in support of transgender athletes and affirming its position that "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." This policy threatens to strip Florida of its 50 scheduled championship events, with expected revenue of at least $75million, over the next five years should a ban on transgender athletes become law in the state.

"We know the consequences when states pass anti-LGBTQ laws and signal that they aren't open for all. States like North Carolina, Texas and Georgia have lost billions in revenue from lost conventions, canceled tournaments and boycotts," added Maurer. "This is deeply harmful to trans youth and threatens our economy. We hope the Senate is listening."

Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. www.equalityflorida.org


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