June is Gay Pride Month.
The month sees a series of marches, parades and other events held to recognize and celebrate the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary and queer) community. The celebrations commemorate the Stonewall Uprising in New York City, which was a critical turning point for the gay liberation movement in the country.
This year’s Pride month started off strong. There is a reason to celebrate.
Florida’s Republican governor signed a bill this week barring transgender females from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls, plunging the state into the national culture war over transgender rights.
“In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said as he signed the bill into law at a private Christian academy in Jacksonville that would not be subject to the law. “We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality.”
The new law, sure to be challenged as unconstitutional, inflames an already contentious discussion unfolding nationally as Republican-controlled states move to limit the rights of LGBTQ people, whose advocates were particularly annoyed that the legislation was signed on the first day of Pride month.
The NCAA, which oversees college athletics, has said it has “a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports.” The NCAA currently requires transgender women to get treatment to lower their testosterone levels before they can compete in women’s sports.
When the Florida Legislature was considering the measure in April, the NCAA said it would commit championship games to “locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
High-profile athletic events, such as football bowl games and basketball tournaments, generate millions of dollars for local communities.
The measure approved by the GOP-led Legislature takes effect July 1. It says a transgender student athlete can’t participate without first showing a birth certificate saying she was a girl when she was born. It’s not clear whether all females must show their birth certificates, or only those whose gender is questioned. The proposal allows another student to sue if a school allows a transgender girl or woman to play on a team intended for biological females.
The final wording of the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” stripped away some of its most contentious elements, including a requirement that transgender athletes in high schools and colleges undergo testosterone or genetic testing and submit to having their genitalia examined.
But the legislation signed by the governor advances an underlying principle asserted by supporters: Biological differences between males and females make it unfair for athletes identified as boys at birth to compete on teams for girls and women. The law would not bar female athletes from playing on boys’ or men’s teams.
The Florida law mirrors an Idaho law, the first of its kind when enacted last year, that is now mired in legal challenges. GOP governors in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee recently signed similar measures.
Efforts by conservatives to restrict rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people have spawned numerous battles in key arenas — not only in legislatures and courtrooms but also across the economy, and critics warned of looming consequences.
According to a 2017 Associated Press study, North Carolina stood to lose $3.8 billion during a dozen years because of a so-called “bathroom bill.” Those losses were averted when a 2019 settlement kept the state from barring transgender people from using bathrooms that conformed to their gender identity.
We are grateful Vermont is doing the right thing and, at the same time, standing up to corporations.
This month reminds us just how important it is to stand up for this marginalized community.
“Historians have noted that the shift in activism, if Stonewall truly represented one at all, was a shift primarily for white cisgender people, as people of color and gender nonconforming people never truly had the benefit of concealing their marginalized identities,” a Pride website stated.
We must accept. We must acknowledge.