Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was put on the hot seat on the question of transgender female athletes participating in women’s and girls’ sports, and his support of a controversial bill which would exclude students from sports teams on the basis of biological sex by prohibiting teams or sports designated for female students from being open to biologically male students.
House Bill 1475, titled Sex-specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports, has received widespread support from conservatives intending to protect women’s sports. DeSantis explained to Fox 13 why the legislation should become law.
"I’m supportive of it, and I think it’s the right thing to do," DeSantis said. "I think it’s very important to maintain the integrity of girls’ sports."
While critics condemn the bill for supposedly ostracizing boys who identify as girls, DeSantis says that fairness depends on athletic participation contingent on the student’s biological sex.
DeSantis also weighed in on the so-called Anti-Riot Bill, which enhances penalties for riot-related violence by penalizing looters and rioters who assault police officers and businesses.
One of the controversial points of the legislation is that it allows drivers to escape criminal liability in the event that they drive over a rioter attempting to hurt them or block their vehicle. During the summer riots of 2020 following the death of George Floyd, some Antifa protesters jumped into oncoming traffic, and drivers were found criminally responsible for colliding with them.
The signing of the Anti-Riot Bill comes as the verdict of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was involved in the death of George Floyd, is expected to be announced this week. Riots are expected to break out should Chauvin be acquitted, in addition to already ongoing riots in Brooklyn Center and Portland over the recent shooting of Daunte Wright. DeSantis said that everyone has a right to protest, but not the right to commit violence.
"You can’t have any violence in the state of Florida," he stated. "I think signing that bill will give us more reinforcements to make sure. But I think Floridians draw the line, you know, we want a robust debate — if you want to go out there and make your voice be heard, do it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the minute you see someone’s business start to get trashed, someone get assaulted, that’s totally unacceptable."
"They’ve been under the gun more than anyone has over the last many years. Anything they do is under the microscope. I sent the message saying we’re backing it, because these are difficult things. But I think the bill adequately addresses what needs to be addressed," said DeSantis, in response to claims that the bill falls silent on consequences for police officers during riots.
DeSantis is expected to sign the Anti-Riot Bill into law this week. The transgender sports bill remains in committee, as state senators debate the final wording of its contents.