Florida's Republican-led Senate may be abandoning a bill that specifies that K-12 and college sports teams must be designated based on "biological" sex.
The bill, dubbed the Fairness in Women's Sports Act, was previously approved by the state House on April 14 by a 77-40, mainly party-line vote, with all but one Democrat opposing.
Prior to passing the legislation, Florida was put on notice by the NCAA, which threatened to remove championship games from states passing transgender sports bills.
On Tuesday, a top Senate panel put off considering the ban, indicating that the upper chamber was reluctant to advance the bill.
Senate budget chief Kelli Stargel, who sponsored the legislation, will now divert her focus to finishing the state's budget as there are less than two weeks left in this session.
"Right now, my primary focus as Appropriations Chair is our constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget," Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, said in a statement to Politico. "And in a time-limited environment, I don't know that we will have sufficient time to revisit SB 2012 this session."
The measure has been a priority for Republican state lawmakers in protecting women's sports, with at least 20 other GOP-led states pushing similar measures.
Opponents of the bill argued that it would only "legalize bullying" for transgender students.
State Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens), an openly gay lawmaker and outspoken LGBTQ advocate, shared his disapproval of the measure in a statement to Politico.
"The Florida Legislature has done enough bad policies for one session, and the last thing we need is more divisive rhetoric that will do nothing but keep all of us in our little corners, while the people of Florida look at the Legislature in disgust," Jones said.
Jones also said he hoped that the bill would die in its committee on Tuesday, the last scheduled meeting of 2021.
The Senate's transgender bill differed from the House version by allowing transgender girl athletes to participate in sports if their testosterone levels are below a particular mark. Stargel, however, filed an amendment that would have brought both bills closer in line.
The House legislation allowed medical professionals to verify student's sex in the case of gender disputes.
"I believe Florida should protect the ability of girls and women to safely participate in athletics, and I think there is consensus among my colleagues surrounding that underlying policy objective," Stargel said Tuesday.
"We want to get there in a manner that respects the inherent dignity of each person, while at the same time acknowledging the fact that the biological differences between men and women can be significant, and can vary based on how far along a person is within their transition," she added.
Photo courtesy: Vlad Vasnetsov/Pixabay
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.