The ongoing effort to preserve girls and women’s sports in high schools and colleges gained momentum recently as the Florida legislature passed a bill in the waning days of its session, while West Virginia’s governor signed a similar bill into law in his state.
In Florida, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was passed as part of a larger education bill, SB 1028. The bill, currently awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, requires that girls and women’s sports in public schools and universities in the state be limited to biological females, as determined at the time of birth and indicated on a birth certificate.
Interestingly, the bill – like others around the country – does not correspondingly limit male sports to males, which is perhaps a nod to the fact that transgender males (biological females) are not the dominant threat to men’s sports that transgender females (biological males) are to women’s sports.
The Florida bill also allows students whose rights have been violated under the law to pursue a legal remedy in the courts, such as injunctions and/or monetary damages. It also allows educational institutions – that may be penalized by licensing agencies, accrediting institutions, athletic associations and government officials for following the law – to seek remedies from the courts as well.
In West Virginia, the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” HB 2917, was signed into law recently by Governor Jim Justice.
The law notes that “the biological differences between females and males, especially as it relates to natural levels of testosterone, ‘explain the male and female secondary sex characteristics which develop during puberty and have lifelong effects, including those most important for success in sport: categorically different strength, speed, and endurance,’” citing a study from the Duke Law Center for Sports and Policy.
Similarly to the Florida version and other such laws passed around the country, the prohibition against transgender females (biological males) playing in girls and women’s sports in the state’s public schools does not extend to the opposite situation, i.e., transgender men (biological females) playing on boys and men’s sports teams.
And like Florida, the West Virginia law gives aggrieved students and academic institutions the option to seek help from the courts in vindicating their rights under this law.
Thirty-two states have introduced legislation this year to protect women’s sports. You can find out more information about this effort to “Save Women’s Sports” by going here.
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