Florida's House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prevent transgender athletes from competing in women's and girls' sports in schools and colleges, while also subjecting students to "physical examination" if their gender was disputed.
The HB 1475 bill, entitled Fairness in Women's Sports Act, passed the State House on Wednesday with a 77-40 vote largely along party lines. All Democrats opposed the bill but one.
Republican members claim the bill would protect the sanctity of female sports by preventing transgender athletes from participating. But critics say this latest attempt would further lead to the "bullying" of transgender students.
The bill focuses on women's athletics and would still allow transgender athletes to participate in boys’ and men’s sports.
The rule also authorises schools to require health examinations or documentation from a student's health provider in cases where "biological sex" is disputed.
"A dispute regarding a student's sex shall be resolved by the student's school or institution by requesting that the student provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student's personal health care provider which must verify the student's biological sex," says the bill.
It allows for "routine sports physical examination" of the students' genitals, genetic makeup, and testosterone levels.
The bill will now go to the Republican-led Senate in Florida. Dozens of similar bills have been proposed in state legislatures across the US.
In Idaho Governor Brad Little, a Republican, signed a law that would outright ban the participation of transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports after it passed through the state legislature – making it the first state to impose such a law. Following its passage in 2020, a federal judge temporarily struck down the measure.
Florida lawmakers reportedly mirrored their bill from the one that initially passed in Idaho.
"This is about giving women and girls an equal chance to succeed. It's simple, it's clear, I've reviewed it," claimed Republican state representative Jenna Persons-Mulicka, according to the local FOX affiliate. The lawmaker voted for the measure on Wednesday.
The passage of the ban through the House sparked several transgender residents to speak out against the move made by lawmakers.
"I ask that you read this bill and recognize the threat to privacy and lack of legal protection potentially facing female athletes," Andrew Coleman, a transgender man and student at Florida State University, said during a press conference, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
"Read this bill and recognise the perpetuating harm this legislation has to kids who just want to live."
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