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LGBTQ advocates host rallies in downtown Sarasota and Bradenton

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 3:15 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In reaction to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of a bill banning transgender women athletes from competing on women’s high school and college teams, cheers and chants filled the air at Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota Tuesday evening.

“We believe this is a misguided and unnecessary law,” said PFLAG Sarasota President Carol Miller.

The governor said this new law would ensure women have the opportunity for “scholarships and competition at the highest level,” but it also allows athletes or institutions the “right to civil remedies” if there is a violation of the bill. SB 1028 seeks to make female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

Named the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act,” the new law requires female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

“The bill will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said before signing the bill Tuesday morning. “It says that athletic teams that are designated for females are open to females. We’re going to go based off biology, not based off ideology when we’re doing sports.”

The new law mirrors legislation considered or passed this year by a number of other states with Republican-led legislatures. The bans are drawing pushback from LGBTQ advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Miller said they held the Sarasota rally, and a similar rally in downtown Bradenton, to advocate for change for the younger generation who might not be able to advocate for themselves. “We are here to stand up for the rights of LGBTQ young people,” said Miller.

The rally featured a wide variety of speakers from various backgrounds, including martial arts instructor Tatsiana Hovercamp. “It winds up hurting cis people,” said Hovercamp. “It would also hurt cis women who might not conform to gender.”

Hovercamp is a transgender martial arts instructor in St. Petersburg and said being able to participate in sports created a community and a pathway for success.

“I don’t know where I would be today without my martial art community,” said Hovercamp.

A community that Hovercamp would want for younger people for generations to come. “They are like a second family to me and I would want that for everybody,” said Hovercamp.

DeSantis said this new law would ensure women have the opportunity for “scholarships and competition at the highest level,” but it also allows athletes or institutions the “right to civil remedies” if there is a violation of the bill. SB 1028 seeks to make female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

Named the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act,” the new law requires female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

“The bill will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said before signing the bill Tuesday morning. “It says that athletic teams that are designated for females are open to females. We’re going to go based off biology, not based off ideology when we’re doing sports.”

The new law mirrors legislation considered or passed this year by a number of other states with Republican-led legislatures. The bans are drawing pushback from LGBTQ advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers.

“We know that our transgender youth are among the most marginalized in our schools and most likely to face bullying, discrimination, and rejection,” Cowens said. “Demonizing transgender children rather than affirming them puts their lives at risk, and is wrong. Today community members are gathering to call for Florida to #ProtectTransKids and to repeal this terrible law.”

House Republicans attached the transgender athlete ban to the sweeping education bill in the waning days of the legislative session that wrapped on April 30, after the controversial proposal had stalled in the Senate as a stand-alone measure.

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