NCAA ratchets up pressure on Florida to allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) (Keith Srakocic, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE – The NCAA is ratcheting up the pressure on universities scheduled to hold championship games, requiring them to reaffirm their commitment to nondiscrimination, including against transgender athletes.

The NCAA is requiring future championship hosts to commit to its nondiscrimination policy, which allows transgender women to compete in women’s sports under certain circumstances, but a new Florida law specifies that “an athletic team or sport that is designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex, based on the student’s biological sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth.”

Jon Harris Maurer is with Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy organization.

“This legislation has put in peril some of those important championships and sporting events, but really more than anything, it’s putting in peril our young people’s opportunities to play on teams and learn critical lessons that come from sports,” Maurer said.

But supporters of the law, dubbed The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, aren’t backing down.

“If they want the University of Florida or Florida State or our other schools to leave the NCAA, that may be up to them,” said State Rep. Randy Fine.

At the time of the bill’s signing, activists estimated the law could cost the state 50 events and $75 million in economic activity. But so far, championships have continued to be held in the Sunshine State.

Fine said he believes the association’s threats are a bluff.

“They’re a bunch of clowns and they will fold and we’re not worried about it, look, we’re going to stand for women,” said Fine.

There’s also a lawsuit filed in federal court challenging the law, which claims it violates Title IX and the 14th Amendment.

Attorney Rosalyn Richter, who is representing the 13-year-old transgender teen named in the suit, said rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and two federal courts have backed up those arguments.

“These types of laws are sex discrimination under Title IX,” said Richter.

But supporters believe the law will be upheld.

“Men should not be able to play women’s sports. Period,” said Fine.

The state has until August 23 to respond to the suit.