Florida can ban boys from competing in girls sports: court

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis | Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A judge has upheld a Florida law that prohibits boys who identify as female from competing in girls’ scholastic sports, arguing that the measure does not discriminate against trans-identified youth.  

In an order released Monday, United States District Judge Roy K. Altman, a Trump appointee, granted the state’s motion to dismiss, concluding in part that “promoting women’s equality in athletics is an important governmental interest” and that “not all gender-based classifications violate the Equal Protection Clause.”

“Courts around the country have similarly held that—given the historic (and ongoing) imbalance in the athletic opportunities that are available to male and female students—the government has an important interest in protecting and promoting athletic opportunities for girls,” wrote Altman.

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Altman also rejected the claim that the law discriminates against trans-identified students, noting that it lacks any confirmed animus in either its text or in the stated intentions of its sponsors.

“In addition to allowing transgender athletes of both sexes to play on coed (or mixed) teams, the law explicitly allows transgender boys to try out and play for boys’ sports teams,” the order continued.

“If the law had intended to discriminate against transgender student-athletes, in other words, it’s done a very poor job of it.”

In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1028, also known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which, among other things, prohibits males from participating in female sporting events sponsored by public institutions.

DeSantis said in a statement at the time that he wants "every girl in Florida to compete on an even playing field for the opportunities available to young women in sports.”

“Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states. It’s common sense,” he stated.

Shortly after the law was signed, a trans-identified middle school student who was born male but identifies as female and his parents filed a complaint against the state, claiming the law was discriminatory.  

Identified in court documents as “D.N” and using female pronouns, the student reportedly had been participating in girls' sports since elementary school and was taking hormone blockers since age 11.

“Depriving her of these opportunities will have a long-term impact on her future. It also will create a sense of shame and diminish her positive sense of self, which can have lifelong consequences,” the complaint alleged.

“If [D.N.] does not have the option to play girls’ sports in high school and college, she will not be able to play sports at all and will lose the benefits of being part of the team network that has supported her emotionally and psychologically.”

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