LGBTQ civil rights group sues Florida over ban on transgender girls in sports
“We are sending a message to him, and all anti-equality officials, that you cannot target our community without retribution," Human Rights Campaign said.
TALLAHASSEE — LGBTQ civil rights group Human Rights Campaign filed a long-expected federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging Florida’s recent legislation banning transgender athletes from playing girls sports.
The lawsuit marks the first case against Florida’s “Fairness in Women Sports Act” since it was signed and touted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who joined with Republicans across the U.S. in targeting transgender athletes in women’s athletics as a culture wars issue this year. More than two dozen state legislatures have introduced similar measures.
“We are sending a message to him, and all anti-equality officials, that you cannot target our community without retribution,” Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president, said in a statement.
The HRC lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 13-year-old transgender student referred to as Daisy, a multisport athlete who is about to start eighth grade and plays as a goalie on three different soccer teams.
Daisy has participated in sports exclusively on girls teams but would be pushed to play on the boys soccer team under the new legislation in Florida, which the lawsuit claims would be detrimental to her academic and social development while risking her personal privacy and safety.
“Playing sports makes me feel like I fit in, the thought of not being able to play next year scares me,” Daisy said in a statement through the HRC.
HRC argues that Florida’s ban on transgender athletes in girls’ sports is a “clear violation” of the Constitution under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and Title IX, a federal education law that bars discrimination based on sex. Similar arguments have been made surrounding laws in Idaho and West Virginia that have already been disputed in court.
The Biden administration earlier this month made its first legal move to protect transgender girls’ rights to play sports by blasting the West Virginia law as unconstitutional.
Florida’s new law establishes that women’s sports from middle school through college, including intramurals and club teams, are closed to males based on the biological sex listed on a student’s birth certificate.
The measure was celebrated by Republicans for “protecting the integrity” of girls athletics. Florida joined more than 20 other GOP-leaning states pushing similar ideas. Democrats by and large disavow the policy, claiming it’s unwarranted in the state, fuels transphobia and discriminates against transgender students.
The HRC lawsuit marks the latest legal challenge facing Florida and DeSantis stemming from the 2021 session. Already, the DeSantis administration is fighting court battles on the state’s contentious new voting law and a crackdown on social media companies.