June 1, 2021

Serena Sonoma
Communications Coordinator, Regional Media Lead, U.S. South, GLAAD

(New York, NY - June 1, 2021) - GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing SB 1028 into law. The law bans transgender youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity and is the first anti-LGBTQ law to be passed in the state in 23 years. 

Eight previous states, Mississippi, Idaho, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, and Montana have signed sports ban bills into law and South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem issued executive orders that bar trans youth from participating in sports after expressing concerns about the legality of the state’s ban. Lawmakers across the country have acknowledged they could not cite an instance of trans participation being an issue in their states. 

Florida now becomes the ninth state overall to ban transgender athletes from competing in sports consistent with their gender identity. 

GLAAD released a guide for journalists covering the wave of anti-LGBTQ bills nationwide and included updates from the fight in the states against the bills.

Statement from Serena Sonoma, GLAAD’s Communications Coordinator and Regional Media Lead, U.S. South:

“Governor DeSantis is sending an unmistakable and cruel message to LGBTQ Floridians and all Americans that he stands strongly against LGBTQ rights. Not only did DeSantis sign this bill on the first day of Pride month but did so as the LGBTQ community is set to mark five years since the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando next week. Laws like this send messages that make LGBTQ people less safe, including children. Every child needs to hear the message that you belong, sports are for everyone, and everyone wins when everyone is included.”

Despite Desantis’ aggressive attack on LGBTQ+ Americans, over more than 100 locally elected officials oppose the passage of this bill, several Florida sports organizations have joined these elected officials in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, including The Miami Heat, Misfits Gaming Group, Major League Soccer, and more. 

And the fact still remains clear that Americans overwhelmingly oppose anti-transgender laws. Make no mistake about it that this continues to be an orchestrated attack by both national and local anti-LGBTQ conservative groups by creating a war on children, damaging both youth and their families lives.” 

Gina Duncan, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality said: 

“We need to be clear about the message of this hateful bill: Governor DeSantis and GOP leaders in the legislature are not concerned about athletics, they simply don’t believe that transgender people exist.

That is the kind of erasure that makes life more dangerous for those who are already at the highest risk of violence. Last week, we saw a horrifying story of violence against a transgender girl in her school in Deerfield Beach. It’s not an accident that when transphobia is spewed from the highest levels of leadership, trans kids take the brunt of the bigotry. This bill is shameful, violent, and just made the world less safe for our most vulnerable young people.”

The evidence against bans on transgender students in sports is well-documented:

  • 16 states, the NCAA (since 2011), the Olympics (since 2004), and several professional and recreational leagues including USA Gymnastics, U.S. Soccer, and the National Women’s Hockey League all have policies allowing transgender participation in sports.
  • On March 10th, more than 545 college student-athletes sent a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors calling for the NCAA to uphold its nondiscrimination policy and publicly refuse to host championships in states with bans against trans athletes.
  • Student signatories are athletes from college and university athletics from every region in the U.S., representing a variety of sports including men's and women's basketball, men's football, track and field, rowing, swimming, diving, and gymnastics. The letter cites the 2016 NCAA non-discrimination policy following the institution’s decision to move all championship games out of North Carolina in response to House Bill 2, which prohibited some transgender people from using public restrooms according to their gender identity, a move estimated to cost North Carolina $3.76 billion.


  • The harm faced by trans students is well-documented. The Trevor Project research shows 40% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being physically threatened or harmed because of their gender identity. GLSEN research shows 45% of trans students fear using the bathroom at school. 22% of trans women perceived as trans in school were harassed to the point they had to leave school because of it. Banning them from activities with their peers further stigmatizes and traumatizes them.
  • All students benefit when transgender and nonbinary students are included:
    • More than a quarter of transgender and nonbinary youth (27%) who participated in sports reported mostly A grades compared to 19% who did not participate in sports.
    • Participation in girls’ sports declined in states with outright bans or policies that exclude trans girls, while participation remained steady among girls in states with policies that include transgender girls.
    • In states where transgender youth are allowed to play, more women and girls—not fewer—are playing sports.