Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signs an executive order that...

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signs an executive order that restricts transgender athletes competing at Nassau athletic facilities. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Sports organizations that allow transgender girls to compete on girls teams can't use Nassau County athletic facilities, County Executive Bruce Blakeman said Thursday through an executive order that drew widespread rebuke.

Blakeman, a Republican, said his order goes into effect immediately at more than 100 sites, including basketball courts, swimming pools and ballfields. It requires organizations applying for a permit to “expressly designate” whether they are male, female or coed based on their members' "biological sex at birth." 

Blakeman said he had not heard of specific examples of transgender girls attempting to compete in women's sports in Nassau. Hundreds of women's sports teams use Nassau's facilities annually, said Blakeman spokesman Chris Boyle. The order does not apply to sports teams that allow those who were born female to play on male teams.

Blakeman's announcement, made at a news conference at the legislative building in Mineola, was criticized by LGBTQ leaders, who said it could lead to further discrimination. New York State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, questioned the order's legality, and Gov. Kathy Hochul said the Nassau GOP was "resorting to a new divisive culture war attack: bullying trans kids." 

“There is nothing lower than trying to score cheap political points by putting a target on the backs of some of our state’s most vulnerable children. We’re proud New York has some of the nation’s strongest protections for the LGBTQ+ community and my Administration is committed to enforcing these laws," Hochul, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Blakeman said his order "isn’t a partisan issue, this is a common-sense issue.” His spokesman said it will be enforced by Nassau's parks department, which issues the permits. The order does not require approval from the county legislature.

It mirrors other attempts across the country to limit transgender athletes' participation in school sports. Legislation in multiple states has prompted litigation. In April, the Republican-led U.S. House passed a bill similar to the state laws.

“Nassau County’s cynical executive order is illegal and we will consider all options to stop it," Bobby Hodgson, director of LGBTQ rights litigation for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said. "In the wake of growing attacks against LGBTQ+ rights nationwide, we must defend trans people’s rights, uphold New York law and ensure their equal participation in all aspects of life, including sports.”

In a statement, James said the order "is transphobic and deeply dangerous."

"We are reviewing our legal options," she said.

Pat Pizzarelli, executive director of Section VIII, the governing body of Nassau County public school sports, said he supports the order but will follow guidelines from the state.

“The state education department will dictate how these situations are handled," Pizzarelli said. "We currently don’t have any situations in any sport where there is a transgender issue in Nassau County as far as I know.”

Others said Blakeman's order doesn't fit the role of county executive, a job typically associated with overseeing nonpartisan services like snow plowing and property taxes. 

“Today’s focus on legislating little leagues has nothing to do with his responsibilities,” Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, the Democratic minority leader, said.

With Gregg Sarra

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