Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Over the next week, we’ll likely see several state legislatures and the U.S. Congress pass resolutions celebrating female athletic achievement—and they’ll do so with overwhelming bipartisan consensus.
There’s a reason for this unity: Supporting women in sports is historically a bipartisan position.
For example, Title IX—which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds—was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1972. Likewise, the original Congressional resolution declaring February 3 “National Women in Sports Day” was passed by a Democratic House of Representatives, a Republican Senate, and signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
It’s easy to see why policymakers from both sides of the aisle would want to give recognition to and encourage female athletes. Studies show that women who participate in sports have higher levels of confidence, lower levels of depression, higher graduation rates, and more success in the workplace. In fact, 96 percent of female executives played competitive sports.
Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen increasing examples of males competing in the female category and dominating girls’ athletics, capturing championships and shattering long-standing women’s records. And on his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order pushing for policies that will only result in more instances of male athletes taking opportunities from deserving girls.
When males compete against females, they dominate, and it’s no wonder why. Scientifically, males are stronger and faster than comparably fit and trained females. They have more muscle, and greater bone density and lung capacity. The bottom line is that men and women are different, and those differences matter—particularly in the arena of athletics.
When our laws and policies ignore the real, biological differences between men and women, it is most often women and girls who are hurt. By being forced to compete against males, female athletes have seen their athletic and opportunities limited.
In response to this troubling trend, several state legislators and members of Congress have introduced legislation to ensure that male athletes cannot compete on female sports teams. Thankfully, fairness for female athletes in this effort continues to receive support from across the political spectrum.
Last year, former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullins introduced legislation to protect women’s sports on a national level. This year, a Democratic state legislator in Hawaii introduced a bill to protect women’s sports in his state.
Legislators aren’t the only ones who see value in protecting women’s sports. Activists on the left, right, and center share the belief that female athletes deserve to compete on a level playing field. From tennis legend Martina Navratilova to grassroots campaigns like Save Women’s Sports (SWS), Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), and Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC), more and more women from across the political spectrum are making their voices heard on this crucial issue.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day reminds us of the importance of female athletic opportunities and the need to defend them against policies that ignore biological reality and destroy the fair competition protected by Title IX.
We can best celebrate female athletic achievement by working together to preserve its future.
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