‘Biological differences matter,’ attorney says
Florida can enforce its law that prevents men who identify as women from competing in sports at the grade school through college level, a federal judge recently ruled.
The Monday ruling from the Southern District of Florida dismissed a challenge from a male high schooler who has taken estrogen and identifies as a female. He wants to be able to play soccer and volleyball on the women’s team, but state law, Senate Bill 1028, prohibits it.
Judge Roy Altman ruled the law does not violate guarantees of equal protection because there is a “governmental interest” in preserving opportunities for female athletes. “[W]e find that promoting women’s equality in athletics is an important governmental interest,” Judge Altman wrote.
He cited an older ruling from liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote, “Without a gender-based classification in competitive contact sports, there would be a substantial risk that boys would dominate the girls’ programs and deny them an equal opportunity to compete in interscholastic events.”
Altman cited other cases that have established the benefits of sex-segregated sports due to an “imbalance” in opportunities for female athletes. “Courts around the country have similarly held that…the government has an important interest in protecting and promoting athletic opportunities for girls,” the district judge wrote.
He further wrote that the protections are reasonable and not based on animus and stereotypes:
In our case, SB 1028’s gender-based classifications are rooted in real differences between the sexes—not stereotypes. In requiring schools to designate sports-team memberships on the basis of biological sex, the statute adopts the uncontroversial proposition that most men and women do have different (and innate) physical attributes. Ignoring those real differences would disserve the purpose of the Equal Protection Clause, which is to safeguard the principle that “all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.”
Alliance Defending Freedom praised the ruling. It intervened in support of the law.
“The court was right to uphold Florida’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. States like Florida have an interest in protecting women and girls as men continue to take medals, podium spots, and other opportunities away from women in female sports,” ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer stated in a news release.
“Biological differences matter. As more women lose opportunities to men with natural physical advantages, lawmakers are acting to preserve equal opportunities and common sense,” Kiefer stated. “If men are allowed to compete in women’s sports, women will continue to face discrimination that Title IX prohibits.”
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