WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, current and former athletes, coaches, and prominent women’s advocates rallied in the nation’s capital for the coast-to-coast Our Bodies, Our Sports “Take Back Title IX” Summer 2024 Bus Tour. The rally-style event, held at the Bullpen, 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.

Here is the Google drive with photos from the Washington, D.C. rally. [photo credit: Indeoendent Women’s Forum]

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:

Martina Navratilova, OLY, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, founding member of the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group: “As I got deeper into [this] issue, I realized the connection between women’s sex-based spaces and sports. Patriarchy still rules; it seems that when women speak up we get called all sorts of names, we are told to shut up at best, at worst we are threatened with violence. My people are turning on me, they’re turning on us women who speak up for women’s sex-based rights. So now I’m asking everyone to speak out; speak on behalf of your daughters, your sisters, your mothers, all the women in your life if you can, because we really want a level playing field when we are competing. We need the same people that supported Title IX in its original form to speak up now.”

Riley Gaines, 12x All American swimmer, 5x SEC Champion and record holder, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador, and host of “Gaines for Girls” on OutKick: “Let’s be very clear about something. This is so much broader than just women’s sports and what Joe Biden has done to Title IX and how he’s abolished it and its original intent. This is so much bigger than even just that. The premise of this topic, of the gender ideology movement as a whole, is that we are denying objective truth. The most basic of truths at that. A truth we have never struggled to understand in the nearly 250 years we’ve been established as a country, and certainly much longer than that, that truth being man and woman, the sheer essence of humanity.”

Donna De Varona OLY, two-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer and co-founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation: “Do not confuse gender with biology. That’s a slippery slope. If we deny half our population the ability to have free speech and we cancel them, what does that mean for everybody else? What road are we going down? We have to embrace free speech. We have to protect people. Let’s not lose sight of what we could lose. Not only women’s sports but all men’s sports.” 

Selina Soule, former elite high school track and field athlete from Connecticut. 10x All Conference, 5x All State, 3x All New England, and 4x National Qualifier track athlete and one of the first advocates for keeping women’s sports for women: “I was forced to compete against not one, but two biological males in short sprints events throughout all four years of high school. During that time, I competed against at least one male almost every single week, totaling to dozens of races. Races lost to male athletes. Between the two of them, they won over 15 women’s state championships, dozens of invitational meets, and broke over 17 meet and state records. Records no girl will ever be able to achieve.”

Linnea Saltz, former NCAA track & field athlete from Southern Utah University who competed against June Eastwood, the first male athlete identifying as female to compete in DI cross country: “I actually stood outside Georgia Tech when Riley lost to Lia Thomas. I was protesting there with a multitude of these women, as well. And what happened to Riley and what happened to Paula and what happened to a multitude of women within the NCAA would have never happened if the NCAA would have heeded the warnings that myself and other athletes around the NCAA brought to their attention in 2019. I’m now standing here in front of you in 2024 and we are still allowing the same thing to happen.”

Cynthia Monteleone, Team USA world champion track athlete who competed against a male athlete at the World Championship: “We women went from being told in the 70s that if we run cross-country, our uteruses would fall out, and that we couldn’t possibly train on our cycles, to now being given an equal opportunity to compete in such an event like a decathlon. Title IX gave us this path to these opportunities. Now, because of the Biden administration’s attack on women, that path is blocked with a huge boulder of misogyny.”

Evie Edwards, former NCAA cross-country runner and has medaled in world, national and regional cycling events: “I’m thrilled to be a part of this consortium of women and female advocates united by this bus tour, visiting cities from coast-to-coast to engage the public like you and shed light on the consequences of the Biden administration’s new Title IX regulations, which are set to take effect on August 1st. Women need federal court wins and we need your support.”

Coach Kim Russell, former Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Oberlin College and Independent Women’s Forum Ambassador: “My passion has been being a mother and being a coach, and when you are a coach at any level, those kids become your own. Every girl and every woman deserves the right to have space to be with other girls and women on a team without worrying about who else is going to be in the locker room, the bathroom, or who else is going to be on the field. Your dollars mean something, your voices mean something. The girls who are coming next matter – use your voices – courage begets courage.”

Kara Dansky, president of Women’s Declaration International USA: “Feminists didn’t fight to secure women’s space rights, only to have them thrown away at the altar of the regressive, sexist, homophobic concept of gender identity. So for anyone tempted to ask, where are the feminists? I’m here today to say we’re right here, standing alongside all of you and all the female athletes everywhere who are saying no to men in women’s sports and spaces.”

Macy Petty, former NCAA volleyball player and Young Women for America Ambassador: “We know that this administration, in this backwards, women-hating agenda, does not speak for the women of this country. And we’re here to give them a voice. We are here to protect female athletes, to stand with the majority of Americans who are right on this issue, and to defend what we know to be true, because our creator himself told us, male and female. As a female athlete, I encourage you all to not allow politicians to use your sports to silence you and insult your dignity and creation.”

Coach Sylvia Hatchell, former UNC Chapel Hill women’s basketball head coach, and the only coach to win national championships at three different levels: “Sunday was 52 years since the birthday of Title IX. I have lived it, and we have worked so hard to get to where we are, but we’re still not where we need to be yet. And this Title IX rewrite is awful, it’s terrible, and it’s going to hurt women’s sports. So we need you to get involved and to help us.”

Coach Barbara Ehardt, former 15-year career NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach; former NCAA basketball player; and current member of the Idaho House of Representatives from the 33rd district: “I think it’s important to know that as we came a long way and as we started to make progress, they’re taking that away from us because somebody in the White House thinks that they can dictate what can happen with us and our Title IX. And that’s simply not right. Our sports will just be taken away because it’s about winning, folks. Thank you for being here, keep standing strong.”

Kaitlynn Wheeler, former University of Kentucky DI swimmer, NCAA runner up, All-American and SEC champion; and one of the female athletes suing the NCAA on the basis of title IX: “I’m hearing from some amazing women who have so much wisdom, who fought for Title IX. Eventually this country is going to be passed off – I see a lot of young faces in the crowd – and we need to be prepared for that and ready to go when it is time. It’s not a heart issue. It’s a common sense issue. Our country has been divided and really polarized for far too long. This is not a left versus right. This should be a unifying issue. It’s a common sense issue. So that’s why we all stand here today, to uphold the original intent of Title IX, to hold our leaders accountable, that women matter.”

Irene Lawrence, public action coordinator and secretary for the board for Women’s Declaration International USA: “As a leftist radical feminist, I’m proud to stand with these athletes from across the political spectrum to ensure a future where all politicians and sporting organizations place a higher value on women’s rights, fair competition, and not on the feelings of men and boys.”

Jennifer Sey, Founder and CEO of XX-XY Athletics, 7x National Team Member and 1986 National Champion gymnast: “We ran an ad starting a week ago on TikTok. We are banned for life. You heard that right. We are banned for life from advertising on TikTok because we encourage. The deck is stacked against us – big tech, corporate America – they’re all telling us to sit down and be quiet and be nice. But guess what? We’re athletes. We’re resilient. We know how to get up when we fall down, and we know how to get up when we fail. We know how to keep fighting. So all I want from you is to stand up and stand with us.”

Margot Heffeman, vice president of Women’s Liberation Front: “This tour shines a bright light on the devastation of Title IX, a federal law that is being dismantled to deconstruct womanhood, construing gender as a fluid space for men to fill. Boys and men are infiltrating women’s sports at an alarming rate. There is no new type of woman, only male interlopers who have taken our ground. It’s a long, tough sorrow for all of us to carry. And so that is why we are coming together here. To be heard and to educate. To speak and to solve – womanhood is not negotiable. 

Payton McNabb, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador and former high school volleyball player who was severely injured by a boy on the opposing team: “Title IX is under attack because of this illegal rewrite by the Biden of Administration. Women are being erased, and our spaces in sports are under attack, and we have no choice but to stand up for women by defending this basic truth. So that’s what this bus tour is all about, getting to travel the country and just let everyone know that this is real. I’m thankful for Independent Women’s Forum for allowing me to share my story, and hopefully to spread the word that this is happening. We need more people to stand up and speak up for women.” 

Nancy Hogshead J.D., OLY, 3x Olympic champion and silver medalist, and CEO of Champion Women: “Guess what? We’re not even close to being done. We still have 73% more in opportunities that women need to have in order to have equality. So my my plea with all of you is when this ends – and we will win – we still are going to need you all as activists, speaking up and making your voices heard so that the next generation moves the ball further than I did, further than I could.”

Paula Scanlan, former University of Pennsylvania swimmer and Independent Women’s Forum Ambassador: “To rewrite Title IX, locker rooms and bathrooms and female only dorms are also included in that. So we have to think much deeper about not just fair competition, but also private female changing spaces. So that’s really where we are with this issue. And I think that the biggest factor is, this is about the next generation of women. It’s about those next athletes that need these opportunities to have safe, private, changing spaces, need opportunities to have fair and equal opportunities in sports. So when you’re vocal about this, think about the next generation.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to sign two open letters – one to the Biden administration and the other to leaders in Congress. The letters were on display at the rally for attendees to sign to showcase the widespread support to protect women’s sports and stop the illegal rewrite of Title IX.

The letter can be viewed HERE.

Please direct all media inquiries to [email protected]

Click HERE to see upcoming stops on the bus tour.

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