[PHOTOS: INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S FORUM]

NASHVILLE, TN —  On Friday, current and former athletes, coaches, and women’s advocates rallied alongside a crowded room of supporters in Nashville, Tennessee, for the finale event in the nationwide Our Bodies, Our Sports “Take Back Title IX” Summer 2024 Bus Tour. The event was the last in the landmark tour that has been traveling 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.

The rally is hosted by Our Bodies, Our Sports, the nation’s first and only coalition of women’s advocacy organizations from across the political spectrum banding together to save women’s sports. The tour has visited 30 states in 30 days — traveling to a different city every day since hitting the road on May 29. Each tour stop consisted of an event to engage the public and shed light on the consequences of the Biden administration’s new Title IX regulations, which are set to take effect on August 1.  The new rules flip Title IX on its head — stripping all sex-based protections in education, turning back the clock on women’s rights, and requiring schools to allow anyone who self-identifies as a woman into women’s spaces — including sports. 

“Take Back Title IX” Nashville, held at Redneck Riviera, featured OutKick.com’s Jonathan Hutton and Chad Withrow, hosts of Hot Mic, emceeing the program and music performances by country artists Jeffrey Steele and Alexis Wilkins. 

OutKick was a presenting sponsor of the stop and streamed the program on OutKick.com and Fox Nation. 

Speakers at the event highlighted the need to restore safety, privacy, and equal opportunity to women’s sports and contact elected officials to speak up for the cause. 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: “I got to experience firsthand the tears – not just from the moms, but also the girls who placed ninth and seventeenth, girls like Reka, missed out on being named an All-American by one place. I can attest to the extreme discomfort in the locker room when you turn around, and there is a six-foot-four, twenty-two-year-old man fully intact, fully naked, fully exposing himself inches away from where you are simultaneously undressed. I can attest to that, and the whispers of anger and frustration from those girls who, just like myself, had worked our entire lives to get there.”

Gaines called the Biden administration’s Title IX regulations the “most anti-woman, anti-reality pursuit” yet from the administration. 

Paula Scanlan, Independent Women’s Forum ambassador and former University of Pennsylvania swimmer and teammate of Lia (Will) Thomas: “I never imagined that I would be brave enough to talk about [this] with my real voice and my real face. [UPenn administrators] told us we would be labeled for the rest of our lives as hateful and bigoted. They made us women believe we were the problem, and they wanted us to be comfortable [with] being re-educated into being okay with undressing in front of a man. This is about the next generation of female athletes who need these opportunities. This issue has gotten to where it is because people are afraid to speak up and say what they actually believe, so that’s why we have to be here.”

Payton McNabb, former North Carolina high school volleyball player who was severely injured by a male on the women’s volleyball court and Independent Women’s Forum ambassador: “Although [the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act] is passed in North Carolina, Title IX is under attack, and all of that hard work can be brushed away so quickly because of the Biden administration. So that’s why we’re forced to deal with these harsh realities, speaking up for basic truth, and that is the whole goal.” 

Selina Soule, former elite high school track and field athlete from Connecticut, 4x National Qualifier track athlete and one of the first advocates for keeping women’s sports for women: “I said back in 2018 that if we do not put an end to this issue now, it will eventually happen in more and more states across the country and that we would eventually see an end to women’s sports. People in my hometown in Connecticut said this was just an isolated issue, but let me tell you: It was obviously not an isolated incident. As a result of their inaction, for the past five years, we have seen an increase in male participation across all levels of competition in women’s sports.”

Coach Kim Russell, former head women’s lacrosse coach at Oberlin College and Independent Women’s Forum ambassador: “I am here for all the young girls who are in this room, all the young girls who are out there, all the young girls who haven’t been born yet because I am one of the people who got to benefit from the original Title IX. Title IX was passed when I was about to turn five. I am about to turn 57, and I got to go to college on an athletic scholarship to play two sports at the Division I level, both field hockey and lacrosse, at the College of William and Mary.”

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: “The Biden administration realized they were losing, so they came up with 1,500 pages to change what Title IX meant. We’re being gaslit – the other side is going to say it’s about inclusion, it’s about community, it’s about humanity, and it’s not about that at all. It’s not about that – it’s about winning. If it wasn’t about winning, players wouldn’t get cut and coaches wouldn’t get fired.”

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: “It is all of you who are here today that is allowing us to share our stories, to exemplify it, to be here and show our support, and it’s taken a long time for us to get here, but I am so grateful for all of the women that are here, for IWF for giving me this platform, and for all of you to be here to listen today.”

Kaitlynn Wheeler, former University of Kentucky D1 swimmer: “I was at the NCAA meet where a man named Lia Thomas was allowed to not only compete against [us] but change in our locker rooms. I watched as titles, honors, awards were given to a man and taken away from women – women who had worked their entire lives to get to this meet, which is really one of the fastest meets, arguably in the world.”

Reka Gyorgy, 2016 Summer Olympian, 2x ACC Champion and 2x All-American swimmer from Virginia Tech who was forced to compete against a male athlete at the NCAA swim and dive championships: “I’m here today to speak for the current and future athletes because everyone deserves a fair chance to compete, and we don’t need males in women’s sports. The Biden administration came up with the new rules, letting male athletes compete in women’s sports, and I’m just happy to stand beside all these amazing ladies and all those who could not be here today and fight until the end – until they change the rules because this is just not right. This is wrong by any means.”

Ava Quarles, Stuyvesant High School graduate from Brooklyn, New York, where she played girls basketball and flag football, and the only high school student willing to speak at the District 2 City Council public hearing on NYC public schools’ gender-based sports eligibility policy: “The scariest part of this is not the activists – it’s that our school’s chancellor and local elected officials are joining them and threatening our free speech and Title IX rights. They don’t represent girls and are decidedly against a review of their discriminatory sports policies. In any situation, no matter what the situation is, I believe conversation should be an option. Being here today with all these impressive, accomplished athletes, I shouldn’t be considered brave for just asking for discussion and respect.”

Lauren Miller, a professional golfer who, early in her career, has had multiple top 5 finishes; gained national attention after losing a first-place title at the 2024 NXXT Women’s Championship to Hailey Davidson, a male golfer identifying as a woman: “In January, as I sat and watched a man hold the trophy I had been striving for since I was six years old, helplessness was no longer the feeling. But that revelation that women deserve better than this, that this was bigger than me, and I could no longer sit by and enable the hard work of female pioneers to be erased.”

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