Florida Governor Ron DeSantis scored a recent victory in his quest to protect women’s sports in the state from the influence of transgender ideology was secured by a federal judge. In 2021, DeSantis signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act to ensure that girls and women participating in school sports programs would not have to compete against male athletes.
Senate Bill 1028, the legislation behind the act, was challenged in court by a male Broward County student who had been denied the opportunity to join a girls’ high school soccer team. The student argued that SB 1028 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
On Monday, Judge Roy Altman, appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by former President Donald Trump, issued a verdict. He ruled that “not all gender-based classifications violate the Equal Protection Clause.” He noted that Florida’s decision to segregate male and female athletes in school sports was “substantially related to the state’s important interest in promoting women’s athletics.”
The plaintiff, referred to as D.N. in Judge Altman’s decision, also contended that SB 1028 violated federal Title IX regulations and could infringe upon his right to privacy by requiring the disclosure of “sensitive medical information.” Judge Altman dismissed this argument, deeming the potential injury too speculative and remote to support D.N.’s standing in the case.
Regarding the Title IX claim, Judge Altman had awaited a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit regarding a transgender bathroom law in St. John’s County. Ultimately, that court ruled that the term “sex” in Title IX did not encompass “gender identity.”
With this ruling in hand, Judge Altman ruled against the student in favor of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. Judge Altman gave the plaintiff has until November 21 to submit an amended complaint demonstrating how Title IX prohibits the state from treating him differently as a biological male compared to biological females.
Similar laws aimed at safeguarding women’s sports are being enacted in various parts of the country. In 2022, the Republican-dominated Kentucky Legislature overrode the veto of a bill by Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, which barred males from competing in women’s sports. A similar bill that Republican Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb had vetoed was also overturned the previous year.
In 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill limiting women’s and girls’ sports to female participants. That same year, South Dakota passed its own legislation, making sex, rather than “gender identity,” the decisive factor in school sports participation.