WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) recognizes the 38th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day in celebration of female athletic achievement and opportunities. As growing threats to women’s athletics continue to force girls and women, in the name of inclusion, to take a backseat to male athletes in their own sport, IWF has been at the forefront of the fight to save women’s sports and protect fairness and equal opportunity for both sexes – on and off the field.

Today, IWF Ambassadors Riley Gaines, Paula Scanlan, and Kim Russell were on Capitol Hill meeting with Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, and dozens of other members of Congress. The IWF Ambassadors highlighted the importance of legislation at the federal and state levels that keep women’s sports for women — protecting the integrity of women’s sports for future generations.

Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women’s Forum said, “National Girls and Women in Sports Day is meant to celebrate female athletes. Not just what they accomplish on the field, but everywhere. I’m so proud of what Independent Women’s Forum Ambassadors Riley Gaines, Paula Scanlan, Kim Russell and all of IWF’s other outstanding ambassadors and athletes have accomplished. These strong women are inspiring change and defending other women and girls by insisting that women and girls matter. Women and girls should not have to give up their titles and scholarships to men and boys. Women deserve equal opportunity. Forcing female athletes aside isn’t inclusion; it’s discrimination.”

Independent Women’s Forum’s Ambassadors, in honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, issue the following statements:

Riley Gaines, 12x All-American swimmer, said: “Without fairness, what are competitive sports? To believe women are deserving of fairness and equal opportunity, privacy, and safety is not anti-trans. It is pro-woman, it is pro-reality, it is pro-truth, and it is pro-fairness. Women continue to be exploited in locker rooms, and injured by males playing a sport that they love. Allowing even one male athlete to participate in women’s sports inevitably takes an opportunity away from a female – this is a denial of equal opportunity.” 

Paula Scanlan, former University of Pennsylvania swimmer, said: “Governing bodies are blatantly harming women to favor men in women’s sports. There are many, many girls who lost opportunities to race at the next level or even compete at all because Lia Thomas was allowed on the UPenn women’s swim team and cleared to compete in the women’s division. The NCAA contributed to the violation of our privacy, as my teammates and I were forced to undress in the presence of Lia, a six-foot-four tall male, fully intact with male genitalia. This did not happen once or twice, but eighteen times every week. UPenn’s response to concerns from female swimmers was to offer psychological services to deal with it.” 

Madisan DeBos, a current cross-country and track athlete at Southern Utah University who competed against a male in the women’s conference championship, said: “We must not only be the role models for this generation but also the heroes for generations of girls to come. Like young athletes and future female athletes, we too were once standing in those shoes with our own big dreams. I am sharing my story to explain the raw feelings and impact that allowing men in women’s sports has on women and girls in hopes that future generations of female athletes don’t have to face a male athlete like I did. I pray they have fairness and equal opportunity.” 

Kim Russell, former Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Oberlin College, said: “I am fifty-six years old. All of my life has been because Title IX was passed. Thirty-seven words changed not only my life, but the lives of millions of others. It gave us the opportunities to play sports in college, to get athletic scholarships, and the rest of my entire life was affected by that.” 

Payton McNabb, recent high school graduate permanently injured by a male playing in a women’s volleyball match, said: “Allowing males to compete against females is dangerous. My story went viral last year when I was knocked unconscious and suffered a severe brain injury when a spiked volleyball by a male player on the opposing women’s volleyball team struck my head. In an instance, this game became a life changing event. The effects of my sustained injuries have been devastating — stripping away my hopes of playing sports in college and causing great challenges in school. However, I am committed to turning my situation into an opportunity to save other women and girls from suffering a sports injury because of a male athlete competing in their sport.”

As an annual celebration, National Girls and Women in Sports Day honors equal athletic opportunity and recognizes the importance of female participation in sports. Just last week, The Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, by U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and by U.S. Representative Greg Steube (R-Fla.) respectively. Independent Women’s Voice, Independent Women’s Forum’s sister organization, issued a letter calling on Congress to preserve equal athletic opportunity for both sexes.

About The Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville said, “It is deeply disturbing to see USA Boxing change its policy to allow men to box against women. Men should not be competing in women’s sports at any level—and especially not in a sport like boxing. Whether in little league or the Olympics, it’s unsafe, it’s unfair, and it’s just plain wrong. This bill will ensure that the Olympics are fair to American women who train their whole lives to represent our country on the world stage.”

“As a former hockey player and coach, I understand firsthand the hard work and dedication these women have put into their sport,” said House Majority Whip Tom Emmer. “As a father, I also take great issue with girls and women being unfairly forced to train alongside, share a locker room with, or compete against biological males. Our House Republican majority will always ensure female athletes are given the fairness, safety, and opportunities they deserve.”

U.S. Representative Greg Steube said, “We cannot permit the Left to erase women from women’s sports. Congress should not have to legislate to say that men will compete against men, and women will compete against women, but we must combat the delusions of the radical Left. My two bills, The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act and The Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act will prevent men from taking scholarships, roster spots, and championship titles from women in school athletics all the way up to the Olympics. On this National Women and Girls in Sports Day, we must stand for truth, reality, safety, and fairness. I thank Independent Women’s Forum for their perseverance on this critical issue that will have a lasting impact on women’s sports for generations to come.”

Independent Women’s Forum is leading the fight to save women’s sports. Learn more below:

  • IWF Lead the “We Won’t Back Down” Rally at the 2024 NCAA Convention to Demand Equal Athletic Opportunity for Women. The event marked the fourth Our Bodies, Our Sports coalition event featuring female athletes and coaches speaking out against men in women’s sports. Read the NCAA’s response HERE.
  • IWF and Independent Women’s Law Center have produced a first of its kind report entitled, “Competition Report: Title IX, Male-Bodied Athletes, and the Threat To Women’s Sports,” to help athletic associations, policymakers, and courts understand the growing threat to female athletes. Read HERE
  • IWF’s Female Athlete Storytelling Drive featuring real stories from real women athletes can be found HERE.



Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.