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Florida Gov. DeSantis signs transgender athlete ban, Fried files to unseat him

Florida Gov. DeSantis signs transgender athlete ban, Fried files to unseat him
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (shown at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year) signed into law Tuesday a bill banning transgender high school students from playing women's sports. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

June 1 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a transgender sports ban Tuesday, amid the start of Pride Month and a state agricultural commissioner's filing to unseat him.

The Senate Bill 1028 bans transgender students from playing in women's public high school sports, similar to legislation signed into law earlier this year in Tennessee and other conservative states.

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DeSantis signed the bill into law on the first day of the annual Pride Month honoring the June 28, 1969, Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which was a tipping point in the LGBTQ civil rights movement in the United States, according to the Library of Congress.

The Republican Florida governor denied Pride Month was a factor in the timing of his signing of the bill, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

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"It's not a message to anything other than saying we're going to protect fairness in women's sports," DeSantis told the Tallahassee newspaper after signing the bill at Jacksonville's Trinity Christian Academy. "We believe it's important to have integrity in the competition and we think it's important they're able to compete on a level playing field. You've seen what happens when you don't have that."

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Florida's first LGBTQ Latinx Rep. Carlos Smith didn't see it that way.

"Appalling," Smith tweeted. "First day of LGBTQ Pride Month and @GovRonDeSantis signs SB 1028 which bans trans kids from school sports."

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Smith added that the Florida High School Athletic Association has allowed transgender children to play sports in the state since 2013 without any problems.

"This fuels transphobia and puts vulnerable kids at risk for no good reason," Smith tweeted.

The Human Rights Campaign announced an intent to sue the state of Florida and DeSantis over the transgender sports ban.

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"The Human Rights Campaign will always stand up to anti-equality forces on behalf of transgender kids, and that is exactly what we plan to do by legally challenging this ban on the participation of transgender girls and women in sports," HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. "Gov. DeSantis and Florida lawmakers are legislating based on a false, discriminatory premise that puts the safety and well-being of transgender children on the line."

On the same day DeSantis signed the bill, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat from Miami, filed to unseat him next year, according to the Florida Department of Elections.

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Fried, 43, is the second Democrat to start a campaign for governor against DeSantis after Republican-turned-Democratic Florida congressman Charlie Crist announced his campaign last month.

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Crist called the bill DeSantis signed Tuesday "cruel legislation...creating an issue where one doesn't exist," in the Tallahassee Democrat report.

"This is despicable behavior by Governor DeSantis, picking on trans kids for political gain," Crist added in a tweet.

Fried is the only statewide elected Democrat, and won a narrow race in 2018 to be elected as agriculture commissioner.

She similarly spoke out against the ban on Twitter.

"By signing a heartless ban on transgender kids in sports, @GovRonDeSantis is marginalizing an entire community," Fried tweeted. "Signing it on the first day of #Pride2021 is especially cruel."

An attorney and former marijuana lobbyist, who hailed the 2019 lifting of medical marijuana ban, Fried will likely focus on marijuana legalization, according to a separate Tallahassee Democrat report.

"It's time to break the rigged, corrupt system in Florida with #SomethingNew," Fried tweeted. "That's why I'm running for governor."

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