Nassau aims to codify ban on biological males from women’s sports on county facilities


Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s executive order, banning biological males from women’s sports and activities on county facilities could be codified into law.

Presiding Officer Howard Kopel and Legislators Samantha Goetz for District 18, Rose Marie Walker for District 17 and John Giuffrè for District 8, stood beside Blakeman at a Mineola news conference to announce the new legislation on June 7.

“Women have been fighting, the last 50 years, for fair competition in their sport, a fair investment, the same as men, the same numbers, the same scholarships and now that is in jeopardy of biological males taking valuable positions on women's teams, women losing scholarships, women losing the ability to compete, and it's not fair,” Blakeman said.

Goetz, Walker and Mazi Pilip for District 10, will co-sponsor the proposed bill.

“I was recently listening to an interview with Riley Gaines where a student was discussing how she doesn't want to train for second place and I think that concisely explains what this bill is for,” Goetz said. “We do not want women in Nassau County to just train and compete for second place.”

Gaines is a female collegiate swimmer.

Walker said she fears for her granddaughters and other female athletes in the county.

“Certainly, I don't want it to affect our girls with scholarships, with playing and training to come in second or third, because of what they're competing against,” Walker said. “But I'm very, very concerned about their health and safety.”

Biological males and transgender athletes who identify as female are welcome to compete on county co-ed teams, men’s teams or bring forth a transgender league, Blakeman said, just not as a biological male on a women’s team.

The county Supreme Court struck down Blakeman’s executive order on May 10, after a legal challenge by New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit in March.

Blakeman plans to appeal the decision, he said.

Bobby Hodgson, NYCLU assistant legal director at NYCLU had not seen the language of the order, but said that the state anti-discrimination law prohibits this law.

“That was true when we successfully struck down County Executive Blakeman’s policy, and it's true today,” Hodgson said. “If they do continue to push forward on this harmful legislation, the NYCLU will certainly see them in court, and we believe it will be promptly struck down as unlawful under our state anti-discrimination law.”

Blakeman said that his order and this new law would be constitutional, as it protects women and women are a protected class under that same law.

After Blakeman signed his executive order in February, which demanded sports, leagues, organizations, teams, programs or sport entities in county facilities designate themselves based on male, female or co-ed, and then only accept athletes who meet that criteria according to their sex at birth, New York State Attorney General Letitia James sent a cease-and-desist letter to Blakeman in March demanding he rescind it.

Blakeman responded a few days later by filing a federal lawsuit contesting the order, which was denied in federal court and dismissed in April.

“The law is perfectly clear: you cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression,” James wrote in a March 1 news release. “We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York.”

Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton for District 11, issued a statement after the news conference.

"Passing such a law will only cost the county millions in legal fees and taxpayer money, funds that should be used for repaving our roads and providing tax relief," DeRiggi-Whitton said. 

The bill was filed June 7 and was passed by the Nassau County Legislature Rules Committee on on June 10. The bill goes before the full Legislature on June 24. 

“We're trying to help these young girls who are trying to achieve something, and to say that we haven't had the problem here it Nassau County yet is foolish,” Kopel said. “We want to take care of this. We're going to take care of it now.”

The story has been updated to include the  latest information.