CLEARWATER, Fla. — Leaders with Equality Florida held a press conference Tuesday in Clearwater to voice opposition to a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing school sports.
HB 1475, filed late last month by State Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, also would require any dispute of the student's biological sex to be resolved by a health care provider by examining "the student's reproductive anatomy."
Michael Womack, the Communications Manager of Equality Florida, began the press conference by calling for an "end of attacks" on families of transgender and gender non-conforming youth by the Florida legislature.
He called the bill a bigoted movement that proposes a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
“Let’s call this bill what it really is. It’s an attempt by politicians to vilify trans kids in an effort to squeeze out a few more votes in the next election cycle," Womack said.
The communications manager added that transgender youth are most at-risk for violence, abuse, and suicide and that this bill would further ostracize the most “bullied and marginalized members of the LGBTQ community."
Parents of transgender youth then took to the mic to share personal experiences of their children facing discrimination in the community.
“Every parent fears for their child," said Martin Mclellan, who has a transgender step-daughter. “But especially those of transgender youth"
Executive Director of Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, said that this bill would not only have harmful effects on transgender youth, it would also have wider repercussions on the state's economy.
She explained that the bill would prevent leagues like the NCAA from holding tournaments in Florida, as the bill would go against the organization's rules.
"It is deeply disappointing that Rep. Latvala has turned trans youth into a political football. He knows better," Smith said.
Sith closed out the press conference with a message for LGBTQ+ youth. “You have a right to exist. You have a right to thrive in your schools. You have a right to play sports, and we will fight for that right."
The conference took place outside Representative Latvala’s Clearwater office. In a news release, Equality Florida said it picked this location because Rep.Latvala is one of the state lawmakers who are trying to fast-track the bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
The bill in Florida is not the only one trying to restrict transgender women from participating in sports. The New York Times reports, citing the ACLU, that at least 25 states have had similar bills introduced during this year's legislative sessions.
In February, Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini also filed legislation that would bar transgender girls from competing in girl's sports in school and make it illegal for doctors to perform "transgender surgery," widely known as gender affirmation surgery, on children.
Freedom for All Americans, an organization that champions protections for LGBTQ people and is tracking the status of similar bills, says some bills "will almost certainly attempt to single out and target LGBTQ people for unfair and unequal treatment."
Watch the full press conference below.
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