Riley Gaines, female athletes sue NCAA for letting men compete against women

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Riley Gaines, female athletes sue NCAA for letting men compete against…

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Thomas after the two athletes tied for fifth place at an NCAA Women's Swimming Championship, March 17, 2022. |

Screenshot: YouTube/Fox News

Women's sports advocate   

Riley Gaines, female athletes sue NCAA for letting men compete against women

By Samantha Kamman, Christian Post Reporter Friday, March 15, 2024 

Riley Gaines has joined over a dozen female athletes in filing a lawsuit accusing the National Collegiate Athletics Association of violating Title IX civil rights law by forcing them to compete against and share a locker room with trans-identified males. 

The Independent Council on Women's Sports announced Thursday that it's funding the lawsuit on behalf of 16 former and current female collegiate athletes, including Gaines. The athletes are challenging the NCAA regulations that have allowed males who identify as female, such as NCAA champion swimmer Lia (Will) Thomas, to compete in women's sports. 

"By challenging the NCAA's draconian and discriminatory policies, we're sending a clear message: the integrity of women's sports is non-negotiable," ICONS co-founder Kim Jones stated. "We are committed to defending the hard-won rights of women athletes everywhere. This isn't just a legal battle; it's a moral stand for equality and justice in sports."

The suit describes Gaines' time as a competitive swimmer for the University of Kentucky and how she was forced to swim against Thomas during the 2022 National College Athletics Association championships. Thomas competed on the men's swim team at the University of Pennsylvania for three seasons before he began identifying as a woman named Lia and started swimming competitively on the women's team. 

According to Gaines, the NCAA forced female athletes to compete against and undress in a locker room with Thomas, whose male genitalia was still intact. Despite tying with the male athlete for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle, Gaines says an NCAA official told her that Thomas needed to hold the trophy for photo purposes.

"We're not just fighting for ourselves, we're fighting for every young girl who dreams of competing in sports," Gaines said in a statement. "I'm thankful for ICONS' commitment to our cause, especially their financial commitment, allowing us to take this to court. I urge anyone who cares about protecting women's sport to help get behind us."

In addition to the NCAA, the University System of Georgia, Georgia Tech University, University, University of North Georgia and members of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia are also named as defendants in the suit. 

"[T]he NCAA has simultaneously imposed a radical anti-woman agenda on college sports, reinterpreting Title IX to define women as a testosterone level, permitting men to compete on women's teams, and destroying female safe spaces in women's locker rooms by authorizing naked men possessing full male genitalia to disrobe in front of non-consenting college women and creating situations in which unwilling female college athletes unwittingly or reluctantly expose their naked or partially clad bodies to males, subjecting women to a loss of their constitutional right to bodily privacy," the lawsuit stated. 

The complaint accused the NCAA and its member institutions of silencing female athletes and anyone who disagrees with its policies by forcing schools and athletic departments to abide by NCAA's "LGBTQ-Inclusive Codes of Conduct." As the suit noted, the code of conduct outlines the "consequences for engaging in homophobic and transphobic behaviors" and states that offending "language or conduct will not be tolerated."

"The NCAA understands that in some quarters, including on many college campuses, merely standing up for fairness in women's sports will be labeled 'transphobic,'" the suit stated. "Thus, the NCAA's 'Sample Team Code of Conduct' is a speech code, calculated to chill student-athletes from expressing personal opinions about transgender eligibility in the female category that are contrary to those imposed by the NCAA." 

In response to an inquiry from The Christian Post, a NCAA spokesperson described college sports as "the premier stage for women's sports in America."

"[A]nd while the NCAA does not comment on pending litigation, the Association and its members will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women's sports and ensure fair competition in all NCAA championships," the spokesperson continued.