Story at a glance

  • The daughter of a Florida state senator is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a controversial bill co-sponsored by her mother that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports.
  • “It oversimplifies sex-neutral characteristics such as skill, weight, height, strength and/or testosterone level, and the tremendous variation in athleticism within the sexes,” Laura Stargel wrote.
  • “Sports are an integral part of our social fabric and provide essential value to our physical, social and emotional well-being,” she wrote. “Participating teaches critical life lessons like self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, success, and failure."

The daughter of a Florida state senator is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to veto a controversial bill co-sponsored by her mother that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports. 

Laura Stargel, a university student and daughter of state senator Kelli Stargel, believes the bill is “rooted in a false stereotype” that girls can’t compete at the same level as boys. 

“It oversimplifies sex-neutral characteristics such as skill, weight, height, strength and/or testosterone level, and the tremendous variation in athleticism within the sexes; variation that has produced incredible female athletes like Serena Williams and Simone Biles,” Laura wrote in an a Tuesday op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel. 

The legislation was initially stalled before being attached to a charter school bill, which passed smoothly through a Republican controlled state house last Wednesday. Lawmakers stripped a previous clause from the bill that could have allowed schools to inspect the genitals of student athletes to confirm their gender. Now, a birth certificate will determine where a student can play. 


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Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, who sponsored the original bill, said it was designed as a safeguard for women, putting her at odds with her daughter. 

“I thought it was common knowledge that men are stronger than women,” Kelli said. “We’re just trying to protect them.”

“We’re not trying to discriminate against the children, we’re not trying to make them feel rejected,” the Republican senator added. “We’re just trying to make sure that they are safe when they do play, and that they play in the sport that most goes with their physiological makeup.”

Florida’s potential ban adds to a growing list of states considering similar policies. Six states have banned students from competing on sports teams that differ from the gender listed on their birth certificates, and an additional 16 states have placed conditions on transgender participation, The Wall Street Journal reported

But Laura Stargel argued that the bill transcends sports. Kids would be forced to choose between athletics and their identity, she said, adding that sports offer an opportunity for human development and this sort of discrimination could carry mental health consequences for the kids involved. 

“Sports are an integral part of our social fabric and provide essential value to our physical, social and emotional well-being,” she wrote. “Participating teaches critical life lessons like self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, success, and failure.” 

The German Sport University student blasted the pace of legislation pushed through at the “eleventh hour” as a quick hit political stunt to win points with voters. But Laura also argues the decision could carry long-term economic consequences as the state is slated to host numerous NCAA events in the coming years. 

The NCAA updated its policy stance last month stating that “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination,” should be considered as championship sites. 

DeSantis said the day after the bill was passed that he plans to sign it.

“We’re going to protect our girls,” DeSantis said at a town hall hosted by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham. “I have a four-year-old daughter and a one-year old daughter. They’re both very athletic. We want to have opportunities for our girls. They deserve an even playing field, and that’s what we’re doing.”


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Published on May 06, 2021