Controversial transgender sports bill hits roadblock in Senate, likely done for year

Sponsor of bill said there’s not enough time left this session to discuss it

Senate Education Appropriations Chairwoman Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the initial Senate proposal supports the governor’s teacher pay plan “quite a bit.” But it differs on issues such as providing pay increases to longstanding teachers, who might make more than the proposed $47,500 minimum.
Senate Education Appropriations Chairwoman Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the initial Senate proposal supports the governor’s teacher pay plan “quite a bit.” But it differs on issues such as providing pay increases to longstanding teachers, who might make more than the proposed $47,500 minimum. (News Service of Florida)

A controversial bill that would ban transgender females from playing on girls’ and women’s high-school and college sports teams has hit a roadblock in the Florida Senate.

On Tuesday, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the sponsor of the Senate portion of the bill, said that there remains significant work to do on it. Since the session ends on April 30, Stargel said that it is not a priority this late in the game. A House version of the bill (HB 1475) titled the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, passed 77-40 last week.

“I believe Florida should protect the ability of girls and women to safely participate in athletics, and I think there is consensus among my colleagues surrounding that underlying policy objective. We want to get there in a manner that respects the inherent dignity of each person, while at the same time acknowledging the fact that the biological differences between men and women can be significant, and can vary based on how far along a person is within their transition.” Stargel said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.

“I decided to temporarily postpone this bill as we continue to work on this issue. Right now, my primary focus as Appropriations Chair is our constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget, and in a time-limited environment, I don’t know that we will have sufficient time to revisit SB 2012 this session.”

That House bill differs from the one that Stargel authored.

The House bill requires athletes to be placed in sports based on their biological sex at birth. Stargel’s bill would adopt methods similar to that of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC looks at an athlete who has transitioned from male to female and bases its eligibility decision on testosterone levels over a 12-month span.

The move to ban transgender athletes from playing sports based on their assigned gender at birth has become a lightning rod of a topic across the country. At the beginning of April, the ACLU listed 17 states that have some type of legislation in the works just this year.

“Ding dong the witch is dead. Rip Transgender bill!,” tweeted Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.


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