SCRANTON, PA — Current and former athletes, coaches, and women’s advocates took the stage Wednesday night at the kick-off event for the multistate Our Bodies, Our Sports “Take Back Title IX” Summer 2024 Bus Tour in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The landmark tour will continue across the country throughout the month of June, building upon widespread support to protect women’s sports ahead of the Biden administration’s illegal Title IX rewrite taking effect on August 1.

Women’s and girls’ equal athletic opportunity, privacy, and safety will take a devastating blow under the new Title IX rules. The regulations strip away protections for women—taking opportunities from women and giving them to men. This doesn’t enforce Title IX, it violates it. That was true before the Biden administration dropped this rule, and it is still true today.

The bus tour is hosted by the Our Bodies, Our Sports coalition, the nation’s first and only coalition of women’s advocacy organizations from across the political spectrum fighting to protect women’s sports.

The rally, held at Lackawanna College, featured over a dozen athletes, coaches, and prominent women’s advocates, including Riley Gaines, Paula Scanlan, and Jennifer Sey. 

Here is what they had to say:

Riley Gaines, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador, 12x All-American swimmer, and host of “Gaines for Girls” on OutKick: “I am so excited for the first stop of the Take Back Title IX bus tour here in Scranton, Pennsylvania. We actually had to get off at Biden Expressway on the exit to get here, which is just perfectly ironic given what we are here fighting for, which is sex-based protections, which were enshrined by Title IX 50 years ago. Now here we are, and under the guise of ‘progress,’ this has been abolished. But not if this coalition has anything to do with it. We have an amazing group of people and organizations all over the political spectrum here to advocate for common sense, for transparency, for safety, for privacy, for equal opportunity, and for women. I am proud to be a part of this group and to be affiliated with Independent Women’s Forum.”

Paula Scanlan, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador and former University of Pennsylvania swimmer: “We’re going to be visiting a lot of cities across the country, bringing awareness to what’s happening with Title IX. The Biden administration is trying to make sex equivalent to gender identity, meaning that men can take opportunities away from women both athletically and academically—meaning they can be housed in their dorms, they can be allowed to change in women’s locker rooms, and their bathrooms. We’re here raising awareness for the issue, and I’m super excited to be hitting a lot more cities soon.”

Jennifer Sey, founder and CEO of XX-XY Athletics, 7x member of the women’s national artistic gymnastics team, and 1986 U.S. Women’s All-Around National Champion gymnast: “I was a beneficiary of Title IX. I started gymnastics in 1974, just two years after Title IX was passed. There simply weren’t sports and clubs and all the things my daughter can do now. You didn’t have that on every corner; you have that because of Title IX. If you think women’s sports matter and you want your daughters to have the same opportunities you had, you need to stand up and stand with us. If you think the truth matters—and you know because it is true that male and female bodies are different and, up until five minutes ago, you didn’t even have to explain or justify it—then stand up and stand with us. If you know that it isn’t fair or safe to allow males to compete in women’s sports, stand up and stand with us. You will not be alone.”

Payton McNabb, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador and volleyball player who was severely injured by a male on a women’s team: “About a year and a half ago, on September 1st, 2022, I was struck in the head by a forcefully spiked ball during a high school volleyball game by a boy on the opposing women’s team. As a result of the sheer impact of the ball into my head, I was knocked down… everything went dark. That was my last volleyball game. The fact is that what happened to me was 100% avoidable. If only my rights as a female athlete had not been excluded on the basis of being inclusive to a male who identifies as a female.”

Coach Kim Russell, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador and former Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Oberlin College: “This is so important because we are reaching so many more people by coming to small towns, by talking to people all over the country who either know or don’t know about the depth of what these changes mean.”

Selina Soule, 4x track and field National Qualifier forced out of regional championships due to males taking women’s spots: “I warned everyone back in 2018 that if we do not put an end to this issue now, it will only appear in more sports across the country, and we will eventually see the end of women’s sports. We must ensure that every girl across our country is protected and that they have the right to win in their own sports.”

Macy Petty, former NCAA volleyball player and Women’s Sports Spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America: “We are taking back Title IX from the reckless administration [that] is trying to equate gender identity to sex, which is harmful in so many aspects, but specifically as a female athlete, to sports. I myself had to compete against a boy who identified as transgender and it almost took away my opportunity to pay for college, so this is an issue that hits home for me.”

Adriana McLamb, spokeswoman for Independent Women’s Forum, former D1 volleyball player, and coach and recruiter to aspiring collegiate female volleyball players: “Female athletes, like me and the hardworking talented female athletes I am surrounded by today, give their whole childhood up just for a chance to one day play at the highest level possible. You know that collegiate roster spots are limited, and allowing even a single biological male to participate on a women’s team keeps a female athlete off the team and denies others playing time or opportunities to compete—this is a denial of equal opportunity. This isn’t fair, it’s discriminatory.”

Kara Dansky, president of Women’s Declaration International USA: “Men who claim a female gender identity are being enabled to access opportunities and protections set aside for women. This constitutes a form of discrimination against women and endangers women’s fundamental rights to safety, dignity, and equality.”

Margot Heffernan, board vice president of Women’s Liberation Front: “Womanhood is non-negotiable. We are here for sports, for our bodies, and for ourselves. We are very excited to meet so many people here, to have a lot of camaraderie and just to educate ourselves, give each other strength, and have each other’s backs.” 

Coach Barbara Ehardt, former 15-year career NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach and current member of the Idaho House of Representatives from the 33rd district: “I was born in the ‘60s, raised in the ‘70s, and in all honesty, Title IX changed my life. People would ask me growing up, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ And I would tell them I wanted to play sports. I promise you, I was told that’s not what girls do. And I just kept with it, kept with my dreams that seemed to be getting crushed, I got to play in high school, and lo and behold, I got to play collegiate, and I got a scholarship. Then I had this opportunity for a fifteen-year Division I coaching career. So my dreams were coming true, but it wasn’t easy. So just as women like Pat Summit had gone before and helped provide for people like me, we’re trying to go forward and what happens? We’re starting all over.” 

Lily Williams, Lancaster, Pennsylvania female cross country track and field athlete who was forced to compete with a male athlete: “In the spring season of 2021, a boy joined our girls’ team. We didn’t get a heads-up from anyone that this would be happening. We found out when we walked in the locker room and a boy was present. We all knew this boy, as he was a runner on our boys’ cross country team that fall. We were told to deal with the situation because it wasn’t going to change. My issues with him being on the girls’ team had nothing to do with a lack of love toward him, but rather had everything to do with the fact that he was a boy, and despite all the lies he was believing about himself, the lies that society was telling him, and the same lies the president of the United States is telling everyone by erasing Title IX, he still did not belong on the girls’ team. Having a male compete against women not only impacts the top female athletes, but also the athletes who simply aspire to participate in a race or competition. Title IX ensures a fair playing field for female athletes.”

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Click HERE to see upcoming stops on the tour.

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