FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: Female Republican lawmakers are backing girls fighting to preserve the integrity of women’s sports by marking the observance of National Women’s Sports Week.

Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and Republican New York Rep. Claudia Tenney introduced a bicameral resolution this week to celebrate the contributions of individual female athletes and the coaches and parents who support them, promote “equal access to athletic opportunities for members of both sexes,” and “support the commitment of the United States to supporting female athletes.”

The effort is partnered with the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), “the leading national women’s organization” devoted to celebrating women’s rights and fighting to expand women’s opportunities.

“At a time when women’s sports are under attack, we must celebrate the remarkable progress we have made since the passage of Title IX and stand united to protect the future ability of women and girls to compete fairly in sports,” Tenney told The Daily Signal.

“As we celebrate this week, we reaffirm the importance of protecting Title IX and recognize the countless benefits that come from women’s active participation in sports,” Tenney added. “I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and join us in celebrating National Women’s Sports Week. Together, we can continue to uplift and inspire the next generation of female athletes, ensuring a bright future for women’s sports across our great nation.”

Ernst similarly told The Daily Signal: “We cannot and will not allow our daughters to be erased.”

“Doors that were opened over 50 years ago are being slammed in the faces of girls across the country because of the progressive left’s radical gender ideology,” she said. “I’m proud to work with Rep. Tenney to recognize the achievements of female athletes during National Women’s Sports Week and will continue standing arm in arm with Riley Gaines, Paula Scanlan, Payton McNabb, and countless others in their fight to safeguard life-changing opportunities for women and girls.” 

(Photo courtesy of the Independent Women’s Forum)

The move comes as female athletes like Riley Gaines, a NCAA swimmer, push back against biological males competing in women’s sports. Gaines raced against a biologically male athlete, Lia Thomas, and has become a nationally known advocate for preserving the integrity of women’s spaces.

Gaines, who continues to speak out in the face of harassment and violence, testified Wednesday at a Senate hearing on “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans” where she accused the NCAA of “intentionally and explicitly” discriminating “on the basis of sex.”

“As an athlete, I am honored by the efforts of Independent Women’s Forum to celebrate National Women’s Sports Week and encouraged by our leaders in Congress who are filing resolutions to establish the week as a recurring national event,” Gaines, who is an IWF advisor, told The Daily Signal. “Doing so will ensure present and future generations of women will be rightfully honored for dedication to their sport and the strides women have made in athletics since the passage of Title IX in 1972.”

On Thursday, Gaines and other female athletes will speak at a press conference at the United States Capitol upon the introduction of Ernst and Tenney’s bicameral resolution. One of these athletes is Paula Scanlan, a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer and an ex-teammate of Thomas.

“Forcing females to compete against and with biological males on their sports teams threatens to undermine the progress that women have made in these spaces thanks to Title IX,” Scanlon told The Daily Signal on Wednesday. “Thanks to Independent Women’s Forum, members of Congress are moving to establish National Women’s Sports Week, which promises to bring continued focus to the unique opportunities, scholarships, and friendships that female-only sports teams can provide.”

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for fifth in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18, 2022, at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta. (Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Payton McNabb, another spokeswoman for the IWF’s Forum and a high school volleyball player injured while competing against a biologically male student who identified as transgender, told The Daily Signal that “allowing males to participate in female sports is a denial of the basic physiological advantages the average man has over the average woman.”

“Independent Women’s Forum stood by young female athletes like myself in inaugurating National Women’s Sports Week last year,” she shared. “Now, by sponsoring resolutions to establish National Women’s Sports Week, members in the House and Senate have the opportunity to affirm that we deserve to compete on a level playing field without fear of devastating injuries.”

Mary Margaret Olohan is a senior reporter for The Daily Signal and a visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

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