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Women’s groups see path forward with possible House vote on women in sports bill

A potential House vote on a Republican-led bill on protecting women and girls in sports is a sign of hope for women’s groups who fear the future of women’s sports is being threatened.

Reps. Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Jim Banks, R-Ind., filed a discharge petition on Tuesday for Stuebe’s bill called the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2021.


The discharge petition, if it reaches 218 signatures, would force a House vote on the bill that would make it a federal crime under Title IX for any recipient of federal funds who operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities “to permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”

Mahri Irvine, executive director of Women’s Liberation Front, which endorsed the bill, told Fox News Digital in an interview that the bill is “so incredibly important” in order to preserve women’s and girls’ sports.

“What this bill is doing is addressing such a serious problem of social injustice that we’re facing at this time,” Irvine said. “Because we’ve seen over and over again schools at every level – in K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities that are getting federal funds – we’ve seen them catering to the interests of trans identified male athletes.”

“And they’ve really been endangering women and girls, their safety on the playing field, as well as women and girls’ privacy in their locker rooms and bathrooms and overnight trips and things like that,” she continued. “And so we are really, unfortunately, at the point where we do need federal government overreach in this area. We need there to be some type of a penalty and a punishment and a negative consequence for schools that are continuing to take away opportunities from women and girls and that are continuing to endanger women and girls.”

Irvine, who described her group as “the nation’s largest radical feminist, nonpartisan, nonprofit agency focusing on women’s rights,” said it’s “unfortunate” that protecting women’s sports has become such a partisan issue.

A person holds up a flag during rally to protest the Trump administration's reported transgender proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female at birth, at City Hall in New York City, U.S., October 24, 2018. 

“It’s been very interesting that we actually have a lot of members and supporters who say they used to be Democrats, and they have left the Democratic Party,” she said. “They haven’t come over to the Republican Party, but now they’re just in this middle phase of political independence, and that’s because they actually see the Democratic Party selling out women continually.”

“The Democratic Party has made it clear that they don’t want to stand up in defense of a basic definition that’s based on biology and common sense,” she added.

Jennifer Braceras, director of the Independent Women’s Law Center, a consortium of the nonprofit Independent Women’s Forum, which also endorsed the bill, told Fox News Digital in an interview that Democratic lawmakers are abandoning Title IX after championing it for the past 50 years because they’re “beholden to a woke ideology.”

“Democrats have been the biggest defenders of Title IX over many years,” she said. “I don’t know why they’re turning their back on it now.”

“That’s why I think this discharge petition was issued, to force them to think about it, to take a stand and hopefully make the right decision,” she said.

Braceras argued that competitive sports aren’t meant to be inclusive, and that they’re only meant for “people who make the cut” and who meet certain criteria, like age requirements.

“Recent events show that [this bill] is important, because when men are allowed to compete in women’s sports, women are sidelined,” she said. “As we approach the 50th anniversary of Title nine, it’s important to resist calls for inclusion that result in the exclusion of any female athletes from competitive sports.”

Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas prepares to swim the women's 500-yard freestyle final at the NCAA swimming and diving championships

Women’s advocacy groups have been sounding the alarm on the future of women’s sports amid the rise of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania, who has been breaking records on the women’s team after previously competing as a man.

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