JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 1028 creating the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” and preserving fair opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their strength, skills, and abilities in athletic competition. The bill 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. The bill applies the requirements to interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by a public secondary school, high school, public college, or university institution. The bill provides civil remedies for those who suffer harm by violations of the section of law.
The designation of separate sex-specific athletic teams or sports is necessary to promote equality of athletic opportunities, and the majority of Americans support this action. Multiple polls have stated more than 60 percent of Americans believe that biological males should not be participating in women’s sports.
“As a father of two daughters, I want my girls, and every girl in Florida, to compete on an even playing field for the opportunities available to young women in sports,” said Governor DeSantis. “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. Many thanks to Senator Stargel and Representative Tuck for their thoughtful work on this bill to ensure fairness in women’s sports.”
“As a mother whose children have been active in athletics, I know our youth deserve policies that allow them to compete safely and fairly,” said Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I am proud Governor DeSantis has signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act which, by ensuring our girls will not need to compete against biological males, protects the fairness and integrity of women’s sports.”
“This bill incorporates a number of policy changes. It will improve the operations of our charter schools. Taking into account COVID-19, it gives parents the final say in whether or not their child has made enough learning gains this year to advance a grade level,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “And, it protects the opportunity for female athletes to safely compete in athletic activities. This work product reflects ideas many different lawmakers worked on throughout session, and I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for signing it into law today.”
“Today, Florida sends a clear signal that we will protect girls athletics and the female students who seek to showcase their skills and talents on a level playing field,” said Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Chris Sprowls. “I’m thankful to Representative Tuck and Senator Stargel for protecting the opportunities that are afforded to Florida’s female athletes and I applaud Governor DeSantis and President Simpson for working tirelessly to ensure that the hard work, dedication, and commitment of our female athletes is rewarded and celebrated.”
“Middle, high school, and college sports programs play a vital role in the education of students who participate in them, providing character-building opportunities to demonstrate integrity, respect, leadership, and personal responsibility, as well as the joy and shared excitement that being a member of a sports team can bring. The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act protects opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their strength, skills, and athletic abilities and to realize the long-term benefits that result from safely participating and competing in sports programs,” said Senator Kelli Stargel. “I’m grateful to Governor DeSantis for his support for women’s sports as well as the many other important provisions of this legislation that will enhance educational opportunities for students across our state.”
“I’m honored and grateful for the Governor’s support and Speaker Sprowls’ leadership on this important piece of legislation,” said Representative Kaylee Tuck. “The safety and integrity of women’s sports should not be up for debate and this legislation will ensure that both will remain intact.”
“This issue is an issue of fundamental fairness. Recognizing gender differences is a far cry from discrimination,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “This is especially true in education where major college athletics — and the scholarships that go with it — still delineate by gender. No one believes it would be fair for LeBron James to play in the WNBA.”
Full Highlights of SB 1028 include:
- Maintains opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their strength, skills, and athletic abilities and to provide them with opportunities to obtain recognition and accolades, college scholarships, and numerous other long-term benefits that result from participating and competing in athletic endeavors.
- Strengthens educational opportunities for military families by allowing state universities to expand high-quality developmental laboratory schools to serve communities around military installations.
- Paves innovative pathways for students to access industry certification and workforce education by allowing Florida College System and State University System institutions to sponsor charter schools to meet regional workforce demands.
- Empowers students to pursue high-wage STEM professions by expanding access to the Florida Private Student Assistance Program grant award to include full-time certificate-seeking students at an aviation maintenance school.
- Requires each public school to provide parents with information on the role swimming lessons and water safety education plays in saving lives, including free and reduced cost options for swimming lessons and safety courses.