TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida lawmakers moved closer to requiring transgender athletes to undergo testosterone or genetic testing – as well as submit to having their genitalia examined – to participate on sports teams in public schools and colleges.
The proposal in Florida, approved Wednesday overwhelmingly by the state’s Republican-led House, is part of a continuing national debate over transgender rights, including access to restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities. A companion bill in Florida’s state Senate awaits another committee hearing.
The latest battleground is in the arena of school athletics.
Supporters asserted that the measure was about acknowledging biological and scientific differences between males and females, contending that it was about fairness and retaining a level playing field in competitive sports for student-athletes born as girls. Allowing biological
males to compete in women’s sports diminishes the protections and opportunities guaranteed by Title IX, the 1972 federal doctrine that barred discrimination against women in school programs, including sports, said Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka. “It’s about giving women and girls an even chance to succeed,” said Persons-Mulicka, who had gone to college on a tennis scholarship.
The passions that unfolded in Florida’s statehouse marked the latest battle in a national culture war over LGBTQ rights. “You call it policy, and I call this bill about humanity,” Democratic Rep. Michele Rayner said as she wept on the House floor in opposition. “You know the harm; you know the danger.” The Florida proposal mirrors an Idaho law, enacted last year, the first of its kind, which is now mired in legal challenges.