Photos and videos of bus tour events and stops throughout the country HERE.  [Credit: Independent Women’s Forum]

VIRGINIA BEACH — On Thursday, coaches, current and former athletes, and women’s advocates rallied in Virginia Beach for the multistate Our Bodies, Our Sports “Take Back Title IX” Summer 2024 Bus Tour. The rally-style event, held at Ballyhoos, 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:

Riley Gaines, 12x All-American swimmer, 5x SEC Champion and record holder, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador, host of “Gaines for Girls” on OutKick, and plaintiff in Gaines et al. v. NCAA: “This is so much broader than women’s sports. This is so much more than that. The premise of this topic and why every single American should care – is that we’re denying objective truth. The most basic of truths – biological reality, a truth we have never struggled to understand in the nearly 200 years we’ve been established as a country, that truth being man and woman.”

Paula Scanlan, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador and former University of Pennsylvania swimmer: “So for this issue, this is about the next generation. This is about the next generation of female athletes that need these opportunities, that need the opportunities to go to colleges on academic and athletic scholarships. This is about standing up for them. So everyone here, no matter how old you are, you have to think about these next women, the next group of athletes that are upcoming. And that’s really why we are doing this tour. That’s why this is so important to talk about. That’s why it’s so important for us to all take back Title IX because the next generation of athletes, they are depending on us and we have to stand up for them now.

Kate Pearson, women’s swim team captain at Roanoke College who took a stand for women’s sports, despite pressure from college administrators to stay silent: “Come August under the new Title IX rules, what happened at my college will be the default. Schools will be forced to allow male athletes on the women’s teams, taking roster spots and opportunities from deserving female athletes who have worked their whole lives to get to where they are. We need bold leaders who are willing to stop the assault on women and girls. We must take back Title IX.”

Payton McNabb, former high school volleyball player who was severely injured by a male on the women’s volleyball court and Independent Women’s Forum ambassador: “Now because of the Biden administration, Title IX is under attack, and all that hard work will be thrown away because women’s spaces are being erased. Women are being erased. That’s why we have no choice but to stand up for these basic truths that we’re having to fight for.”

Coach Kim Russell, former head women’s lacrosse coach at Oberlin College and Independent Women’s Forum ambassador: “For the last 28 years I have been a coach and a teacher. I am here to remind you guys that you have a voice. Use your voice, use it to reach out to your representatives, use it to tell your school boards what you want. I am here so all of you out here can have the same opportunities I had, and for all the girls who lost opportunities.”

Selina Soule, 4x track and field National Qualifier forced out of regional championships due to males taking women’s spots: “As a result of inaction in the last five years, we’ve seen an increase in male participation in women’s sports in all levels of competition. We now have a president who is, in essence, trying to undo the protections Title IX provided to women, and it will infringe upon our rights. If we allow these changes to occur, women will be turned into second class citizens.”

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: “If it wasn’t about winning, players wouldn’t get cut and coaches wouldn’t be fired. It’s about winning. If these men had decided their freshman year to run or swim or compete as women, I guarantee you every team would have been forced to go out and recruit a man to counter these guys, otherwise they’re going to get fired because it’s about winning. If twelve boys try out for the girls team, then you systematically have to be willing to allow all 12 boys to make the team – and my question is, where do all the girls go?”

Macy Petty, former NCAA volleyball player and Young Women for America Ambassador: “We are here because we know that this administration and his backwards women-hating agenda does not speak for Americans. We’re here to protect female athletes, to stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans who recognize fairness on this issue, and to stand for truth. We will not be the generation who sits on the sidelines.”

Linnea Saltz,  former NCAA track and field athlete from Southern Utah University who competed against June Eastwood, the first transgender-identifying male athlete to compete in DI cross country: “I brought this to NCAA’s attention in November of 2019. What happened to all of these swimmers would have never happened if the NCAA heeded the warnings of myself and the other athletes that stood with me back in 2019. We are now here fighting five years later to implore the NCAA to do the same thing, and now our freedoms are being taken away by the federal government, and by the Biden administration. We will not stop this fight.”

Kaitlynn Wheeler, former University of Kentucky DI swimmer, NCAA Runner UP, All-American, and SEC Champion, and plaintiff in Gaines et al. v. NCAA: “I was teammates with Riley at University of Kentucky. We were at the 2022 NCAA meet. We were not only forced to change in a locker room with but compete with a biological man. It was crazy. I watched as awards, titles, honors were given to a man identifying as a woman. I watched as my teammate Riley, as many other girls who I’ve known for most of my life be sidelined for the feelings of a man.

Irene Lawrence, public action coordinator for Women’s Declaration International USA: “I would not have gained any of these lifelong benefits if I had to train with or compete against boys. Having had a childhood where I was able to take single-sex sports for granted, it’s unfathomable to me that girls growing up now don’t have this right. Giving any legitimacy to the fiction of gender identity violates women and girls’ rights to their own spaces.”

May Mailman, director of Independent Women’s Law Center: “Members of Congress, that’s the other piece of this. Congress doesn’t have to sit there and watch Biden trample the law. Members of Congress can say no. There’s a thing. It’s called the Congressional Review Act and they can say this law is nullified and that law, this Congressional Review Act, has been introduced. So your members of Congress, your senators, your representatives, they need to be co-sponsors. You can call them, you can ask them. The Title IX Congressional Review Act will nullify what President Biden did. It doesn’t even have to get to the Supreme Court.”

Margot Heffernan, Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) vice president: “We at WoLF are stalwart believers in the abolition of gender ideology, a concept that equates to women’s oppression. This tour sheds a bright light on the devastation of Title IX, the federal law that is being dismantled to deconstruct womanhood, construing gender as a fluid space for men to fill.”

Carter Satterfield, member of the Roanoke College swim team and plaintiff in Gaines et al. v. NCAA: “Women deserve respect and fairness. We deserve not to have to face males in our competitions and in our locker rooms. I’m calling on the NCAA to protect female athletes and grant us fair sports in every sport at all levels. I am calling on government leadership and educational institutions like mine to stand with us and take back Title IX.”

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