CHARLESTON, WV — On Wednesday, current and former female athletes, including West Virginia middle school girls who refused to compete against a biological male on their track and field team, along with leading women’s advocates, gathered in Charleston, West Virginia, for the multistate Our Bodies, Our Sports “Take Back Title IX” Summer 2024 Bus Tour. The rally-style event, held at Quantum Sports Center, is part of the landmark tour hitting the road coast-to-coast throughout the month of June, building widespread support to protect women’s sports ahead of the Biden administration’s 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, which replace “sex” with “gender identity”. 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.

Speakers at the event shared personal stories of impact and harm due to misguided policies that allow males in women’s spaces, and the need for policymakers to restore equal athletic opportunity and fairness to women’s sports. Here is what they had to say:

Emmy Salerno, one of the middle school West Virginia girls who refused to compete against a biological male on their track and field team: “It was back on April 18th when myself and four other girls decided to do what was right and take a stand for women’s sports. Ever since then, we’ve gotten an enormous amount of support from women, men, those a part of the LGBTQ community, and people from all over the world, not just in the United States. All of these people feel that a biological boy should not be competing with biological girls.”

Paula Scanlan, former University of Pennsylvania swimmer and Independent Women’s Forum ambassador: “Women deserve equal and fair opportunities to compete. We deserve the right to our own bathrooms, our own locker rooms. If you’re a freshman in college, you shouldn’t be forced to room with a man, which is becoming a thing at colleges, [where] it’s discriminatory to say you don’t want to room with a man. So imagine sending your 17-year-old girl off to college, and you find out her randomly assigned roommate is actually a boy. I don’t think any parent would want to stand for that, but yet this is what’s happening in this country and why it’s so important we speak out against it.”

Madisan DeBos, Southern Utah University D1 cross country and track athlete whose relay team competed against a male athlete: “‘Slow down’ is not a phrase I have ever heard a coach tell an athlete to do, especially at a conference championship meet, yet the male runner competing in a conference championship was being told by their coach to slow down. I am using my voice here today in hopes that future generations of female athletes don’t have to. I hope that they don’t have to face a male athlete like I did.”

Selina Soule, 4x track and field National Qualifier forced out of regional championships due to males taking women’s spots: “I lost out on qualifying for the indoor New England regional track and field championships by just two sports, with the top two spots being taken by biological males. I was robbed of the chance to show off my talents in front of college scouts, perform at a much faster track, and possibly put a better time out to put me in better standing with college recruitment. I was heartbroken that the adults who were supposed to protect us didn’t want to do anything.”

Macy Petty, NCAA volleyball player and Young Women for America Ambassador: “I remember hearing about it, and my stomach just dropping to the floor. Women, again, sidelined, but this time by our very own president. Since then, it seems like nearly every day, we hear about a girl losing out to a boy for a scholarship, a championship, or a roster spot, or being forced to change in front of him in the locker room. We know that this administration and this backward, women-hating agenda does not speak for the majority of Americans and women across the country, and we’re here to give them a voice.”

Margot Heffernan, vice president of Women’s Liberation Front: “In the name of inclusion, women have been cajoled into believing that there’s another type of woman, one who is marginalized, put upon, and dismissed, one whose civil rights have been violated by a cruel society. But young women especially must be strong, not let their good natures be used as a cudgel against them. There is no new type of woman, only male interlopers who have taken over our ground.”

Reka Gyorgy, 2016 Summer Olympian, 2x ACC Champion and 2x All-American swimmer from Virginia Tech, was forced to compete against a male athlete at the NCAA swim and dive championships: “The new regulation by President Biden’s education department will make the issue paramount. It will open the doors for any man to compete in women’s sports. It happens more often each year, and people with the power in their hands don’t do anything to change this issue. Young girls, like those here in West Virginia, are forced to bear this burden.”

Hon. Betsy DeVos, former U.S. Secretary of Education: “I’m of the generation that first benefited from Title IX, so it’s always been important to me. As a grandma to seven young girls, it’s even more important to me to make sure we protect the promise of Title IX for the next generation. When I was secretary of education, restoring and strengthening Title IX was one of the most important things we worked on. Some people called it controversial; I called it common sense. The same is true today.”

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Click HERE to see upcoming stops on the bus tour.


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