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Florida fires costly return salvo at NCAA over boycott of states that protect women’s sports

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The Florida legislature has passed a measure that would strip taxpayer funding from the NCAA as well as any other business or organization that boycotts the state over its intent to protect the integrity of female sports.

The legislation is in response to a decision by the collegiate sports organization last month that it will pull events from states that ban transgender women — who are biological males — from participating in all-female sporting events.

The Board of Governors announced in mid-April that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports” as more than two dozen states were considering or passing legislation prohibiting biological males from competing against biological females.

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the board said. “We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has historically defended women’s rights and even launched a “Women’s Rights Project” in the early 1970s, backed the NCAA’s position.

But rather than shrink from the NCAA’s threat, states continue to move forward with efforts that mostly Republican lawmakers say are aimed at protecting women’s sports — including Florida.

Last month, the Texas Senate passed a similar measure requiring student athletes to only compete against others who are of the same biological sex. The bill now awaits what is expected to be a highly emotional hearing before the Texas House Committee on Public Education in the coming days. If it clears the committee, it will move to the full House. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has said he will sign the legislation if it hits his desk.

“For five years the University Interscholastic League (UIL) in Texas has had a rule in place prohibiting boys from playing girls in girls’ sports,” Abbott said during a Thursday night town hall event hosted by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham and attended by four other GOP governors including Florida’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, who is also expected to sign the legislation.

“Oh yeah, we’re going to protect our girls. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old daughter and they’re both very athletic. And we want to have opportunities for our girls,” DeSantis said on the program.

“They deserve an even playing field and that’s what we’re doing with what Mississippi did, with what Florida did, and I know with what other states are going to do,” he added. “So I look forward to being able to sign that into law.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, also a guest on the town hall, was the first to sign a women’s protection bill earlier this year.

“This is an issue I’m passionate about and the reason I’m passionate about it is because I have a 16-year-old daughter, a 14-year-old daughter, and a 9-year-old daughter and they play basketball and they play soccer and they play every sport they can possible play,” Reeves said.

“And the reality is biological males should not be allowed to compete with them for athletic scholarships. They should not be allowed to be able to compete with them for opportunities,” he added.

There were many positive responses to the passage of the Florida bill online.

Jon Dougherty

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