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Olympians, Title IX pioneers, hundreds of female athletes urge NCAA: Don’t erase women’s sports

Over 300 NCAA, professional athletes sign letter supporting Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act
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Madison Kenyon running


INDIANAPOLIS – Female Olympians, Title IX pioneers, and more than 300 collegiate and professional athletes submitted a letter to the National College Athletic Association Board of Governors Wednesday, urging them to reject a recent call to boycott Idaho for passing its Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. In the letter, the current and former female athletes state they have benefited personally and professionally “from a fair and level playing field” and urge the NCAA to protect the integrity of women’s sports, consistent with the promise and purpose of Title IX. Signers include world-class cyclist Jennifer Wagner-Assali, world-champion track athlete Cynthia Monteleone, and Title IX pioneer and marathon swimmer Sandra Bucha-Kerscher.

The coalition supports biology-based eligibility standards for participation in female sports and opposes efforts to bully or boycott the state of Idaho for passing the first state law that prevents males from competing in women’s sports. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit, Hecox v. Little, on behalf of a male athlete seeking to challenge Idaho’s newly enacted law. In June, the ACLU and various female athletes called on the NCAA to boycott Idaho.

“Fairness for female athletes shouldn’t be a political issue,” said Mary Kate Marshall, an Idaho collegiate runner and proposed intervenor in the Idaho lawsuit who signed the letter. “We athletes have diverse views on many topics, but we stand united in our desire to preserve a level playing field for female athletes. Protecting the integrity of women’s sports is pro-woman and pro-fairness. I’m speaking up because I want other young women to benefit from sports as I have.”

The athletes’ letter notes that studies demonstrate that “comparably fit and trained male athletes have innate physiological advantages over females,” and even testosterone suppression does not undo these physiological advantages.

“Women deserve equal opportunities to experience the thrill of victory, but allowing males to compete in women’s sports disadvantages women and destroys their athletic opportunities,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said. “If we ignore these clear biological differences, female athletes will lose medals, podium spots, public recognition, and opportunities to compete in the sports they love. Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was designed to protect fair competition and athletic opportunities for female athletes. The NCAA’s mandate is fair competition, and we ask the Board of Governors to reject calls to punish the state of Idaho for courageously protecting the integrity of women’s sports.”

ADF attorneys represent collegiate female athletes in Idaho who are seeking to intervene in court to defend the state’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act against the ACLU lawsuit attacking the new law. ADF attorneys also represent high school female athletes in Connecticut who are challenging a policy that has allowed boys to consistently deprive them of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels. ADF clients and collegiate athletes Madison Kenyon, Chelsea Mitchell, and Selina Soule signed the letter urging the NCAA to protect women’s sports.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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