“Playing sports makes me feel like I fit in, the thought of not being able to play next year scares me. I’m going to be lonely and sad if I can’t play.”
July 01 2021 12:31 PM EDT
Florida Governor Ron Desantis kicked off Pride month by signing S.B. 1028 into law, which requires girls whose gender is “disputed” to provide a birth certificate from “at or near birth” to participate in school sports.
“In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports, and boys are going to play boys sports,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at the bill-signing ceremony. “We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality.”
But for Daisy, a trans 13-year-old from Broward County, this new law means that after five years of playing sports on a girls’ sports team, she will no longer be able to do so. Rather than accept this discriminatory law, Daisy is suing DeSantis for the right to play sports on girls’ teams at her public school.
The Human Rights Campaign, which filed the lawsuit on Daisy’s behalf, alleges the Florida law violates Title IX, which bans discrimination in education on the basis of sex. “If [Daisy] does not have the option to play girls’ sports in high school and college, she will not be able to play sports at all and will lose the benefits of being part of the team network that has supported her emotionally and psychologically,” the lawsuit states. “She may be isolated and face emotional and mental confusion and emotional distress during this critical period of her social and psychological development.”
In a press release from HRC, Daisy explained how the law impacts her directly. “Playing sports makes me feel like I fit in, the thought of not being able to play next year scares me. I’m going to be lonely and sad if I can’t play,” she said.
According to the press release, Daisy plays basketball, softball, and soccer, and has only ever played sports on girls’ teams. She has no advantage over her teammates, because Daisy has been taking puberty blockers since she was 11 and started taking estrogen this year, reports the Associated Press.
In a separate statement, Daisy’s parents Jessica and Gary said, “It is a very helpless feeling to know that people think our daughter does not deserve the rights to play sports with her friends—she has been playing with them for the last seven years and it has not been an issue.”
“Taking this right away will only further isolate her from her peers and take away her ‘safe space,’” they explained. “She is just a girl that wants to play sports with her friends and be part of a team. As her parents, we just want her to be happy.”
HRC officials stated that they intended to Sue DeSantis from the day he signed the bill into law because it is both unnecessary and discriminatory. “Lawmakers across the country who support these bills have failed to provide examples of any issue in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth,” said the HRC in a June 1 statement, “laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discriminatory intent and not supported by fact.”
Along with the announcement of Daisy’s lawsuit, the HRC said it intends to file similar lawsuits challenging other anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.