‘Cruel legislation’: Charlie Crist blasts Florida Republicans for transgender sports ban

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The bill would prohibit transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a bill that would keep transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports after its last-minute passage in both chambers.

The controversial legislation cleared both the House and Senate Wednesday night via an amendment tacked onto another bill by Rep. Kaylee Tuck. That amendment adds a ban on transgender athletes to a bill (SB 1028) dealing with charter schools.

The amendment, which passed mostly along party lines in both chambers, would establish the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act — prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports.

Now, the fate of the bill rests in the Governor’s hands, and in response, Crist is calling on DeSantis to scrap the measure.

“This cruel legislation is creating an issue where one doesn’t exist, picking on young people for political gain,” Crist said in a statement. “Governor DeSantis should veto it immediately. I challenge Republican legislators in Tallahassee to imagine being a kid who is in this situation, what it says to them to be singled out by lawmakers in such a mean-spirited way.”

The bill has caused a flurry of pushback, with LGBTQ advocacy groups calling the legislation discriminatory.

“I have a different message to every trans kid in Florida: you are welcome here and you are loved,” Crist said in a statement. “And millions of Floridians feel the same way as I do — and we’re ready to fight for your right to play and live as exactly who you are.”

Opponents of the bill also share concern about the potential economic ramifications. The NCAA has warned it is willing to withdraw championship events in states pushing such legislation.

And those threats are not without teeth.

In 2016, the NCAA boycotted championship events in North Carolina after its Legislature enacted a state law the previous year requiring transgender individuals to use public restrooms aligned with their sex at birth. North Carolina and the NCAA later reached an agreement, but not before costing the state roughly $3.76 billion.

This proposal — and what DeSantis does with it — may be a topic to watch in the upcoming gubernatorial race, with Crist maintaining an open mind about a potential run.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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