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Young Women Athletes Demand Protection Over Pride

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(Action item at the bottom of the article.)

Article written by Alexandra McPhee and Morgan Haddock

How would you feel if you were forced to compete against and undress in front of the opposite sex and without your consent? What would you say if nobody stopped this from happening to you?

Former swimmer Riley Gaines had something to say—loud and “proud”—during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.” She testified at the hearing on behalf of herself and other women—including fellow swimmer and Young Women for America Ambassador Kylee Alons—who endured a violation of privacy during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Concerned Women for America (CWA) and Kylee were in the hearing room with Riley in a show of solidarity.

Riley shared a heartfelt, emotional testimony at the opening of the hearing about having to be forced to share the locker room with a biological male. She described how the lack of consent to share a locker room with a man who was “equipped with exposing male genitalia” caused some swimmers, including herself and Kylee, to feel “uncomfortable, embarrassed, and even traumatized.”

Following questioning by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Riley explained that the NCAA failed to give notice to her or any other female swimmer that Lia Thomas, a male swimming for the University of Pennsylvania, would be using the locker room with them. Riley generally referenced Kylee’s experience as well. Kylee, a 31-time All-American, 2-time NCAA National Champion, and 5-time ACC Champion, changed in a storage closet near the pool to avoid the feeling of a violation of her privacy. Kylee shared the details of her experience with Penny Nance, CEO and President of CWA, on the Concerned Women Today podcast, which you can find HERE.

During the hearing, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) also asked witnesses who were present at the hearing to support sexual orientation/gender identity laws if there is a biological difference between men and women and if there is a need for women-only sports. However, none of these witnesses claimed to have the “expertise” to make what we all know should have been very obvious conclusions.

It has been a year since the competition, but the NCAA has failed to revise its policies to include sex-specific bathrooms or only allow female competitors in women’s sports. There has been no apology for the damage its policies caused the swimmers in 2022. This has motivated Kylee to bring light to her violating locker room experience to spark change and protect other girls and women from facing a similar experience. CWA representatives joined Kylee in meetings with congressional leaders Sen. “Coach” Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Washington), and Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida) after the hearing.

Sen. Tuberville reintroduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act in the U.S. Senate to combat the discrimination and harassment women are facing and to ensure fair and safe competition. Companion legislation introduced by Rep. Steube passed the U.S. House of Representatives this spring.

Click HERE to tell your legislator to co-sponsor Sen. Tuberville’s Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. Please keep Riley, Kylee, and our congressional leaders in prayer for wisdom, boldness, and opportunity to stand with female athletes amid these trying times.