'To hell with your events': Ron DeSantis slams NCAA after banning trans girls from school sports

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has threatened to pull lucrative championship events from states with discriminatory laws after Florida's governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill


                            'To hell with your events': Ron DeSantis slams NCAA after banning trans girls from school sports
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida's Republican governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Tuesday, June 1, barring transgender women from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes who were born female. "In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports," DeSantis said as he signed the bill into law. "We're going to make sure that that's the reality."

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletes has reportedly slammed DeSantis for this. The NCAA reportedly said it has "a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports." NCAA leaders are therefore throwing their economic weight and influence behind transgender athletes' ability to participate in college sports by threatening to pull lucrative championship events from any states with discriminatory laws.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the cruise industry during a press conference at PortMiami on April 08, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The Governor announced that the state is suing the federal government to allow cruises to resume in Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Back in April, when the Florida government was deliberating on this bill, the NCAA had already said that it would commit to championship games only at "locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination." The NCAA currently also requires transgender women to get treatment to lower their testosterone levels before they can compete in women's sports.

On Tuesday night, DeSantis attacked the NCAA’s stance while appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. He defended the bill and responded to NCAA’s threat to pull events by saying, “to hell with these events”.

On the show, Carslon asked DeSantis if he had come under corporate pressure to not sign the bill. DeSantis said, “...I remember the NCAA put out a statement saying any state that enacts this, we’re not going to hold events there. And so I called the Speaker of the House in Florida and I said, ‘did you hear what they said?’ And he’s like, ‘yeah,’ I said, we definitely got to get this done.”

The Florida governor then said, “You can’t be cowed by these organizations, or particularly by woke corporations from doing the right thing. And so my view was throughout this whole time, we have to protect our girls, it is discriminatory to force them to compete against biological males.”

He added that if the price of having a tournament is that “I have to deny equal opportunity to hundreds of thousands of young girl and women athletes throughout Florida, I am much more willing to stand with the girls. And to hell with these events.”



 

He also said, “Selina made the point today, she missed New England regionals by two places and those two places ahead of her were biological males. So she did everything that she could, she put herself in the position. And had they had fair competition, she would have advanced, she could have advanced in her career.

He added that "a lot of these women are going to have opportunities to play in college, some of them get college scholarships. But even short of that, these are enjoyable experiences, they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, and just think how you feel to basically get cheated out of a victory.”

He was talking about Selina Soule, a Connecticut track athlete, who joined the Florida governor at the news conference. “Sports have always had separate rules to ensure fairness,” Soule said. “Everyone should have the chance to participate in sports, but they need to compete where it’s most fair. This isn’t about self-expression. This is about our right -- a women’s right to win.”

According to Alliance Defending Freedom, an American conservative Christian nonprofit advocacy group, at the 2019 Connecticut Indoor Track & Field State Championships, Soule finished one place away from qualifying for finals, and the opportunity to compete for a qualifying spot at the New England Regional Championships in the 55-meter dash. The first and second spots in the race were taken by two transgender women.



 

"I lost out on the opportunity to qualify for the regional New England meet in 2019 because I was beaten by two biological males and if they were not there in the race then I would have been able to qualify for the meet," she had said in a past interview. 

During the news segment, Carlson asked DeSantis if he expected he would be punished for highly discriminatory Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The Florida Republican said, “We’re standing with our folks, we’re gonna do the right thing. And so if corporations want to come in and try to bully us around, they are going to go nowhere. It’s going to be like hitting their head against a brick wall.”

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David told NPR that the new law would not only harm transgender women. "All Floridians will have to face the consequences of this anti-transgender legislation -- including economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation."

"This is yet another hate-driven attack from the governor and Republican legislators, and it's insulting that they've staged this morning's photo-op on the first day of Pride Month," said Shevrin Jones, a Democratic state senator who represents Florida’s 35th District. "At the end of the day, transgender kids are just kids."

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