Texas Policy Organization Sends Letter To Texas Universities: Women’s Sports Will Be Protected

Save Women’s Sports Act, SB 15, Bill Signing Ceremony with Governor Greg Abbott

This article was written for the DC Enquirer by Texas Values Public Policy Intern Megan Benton

Recently, Texas Values, a Christian law and policy organization that is dedicated to issues of faith, family, and freedom, sent a letter to all public colleges and universities within the state of Texas to ensure compliance with the now-in-effect Senate Bill 15, otherwise known as the “Save Women’s Sports Law.”

You can read the full letter here.

Texas is part of a larger group of states that have all decided to take action to protect women’s sports across the country on the state level. Alongside Texas, there are 22 other states that have passed similar laws.

It’s not often you get the opportunity to be a part of making history, meeting the governor, or championing legislation that will change the state of Texas. As a policy intern for Texas Values, the largest Christian law and policy organization in Texas, I had this opportunity.

Due to being a former athlete myself, and a Kinesiology major at The University of Texas at Austin, I found the idea of men competing in women’s sports preposterous and I was grateful to be able to advocate for the issue alongside a professional organization with the expertise needed to successfully pass meaningful legislation.

On August 7th, Governor Greg Abbott held a special bill signing ceremony to celebrate the athletes and acknowledge the legislature’s accomplishment. At Texas Women’s University in Denton Texas, the governor was joined by Riley Gaines, Paula Scanlon, and multiple Texas female athletes to celebrate.

This monumental piece of legislation is the sweet reward for a hard-fought legislative session. Texas Values, alongside many female athletes, championed the bill throughout the legislative process. Riley Gaines, former swimmer for the University of Kentucky and advisor to the Independent Women’s Voice, was an integral part of this process and even spent her own time in the Texas capitol advocating for the issue.

When Riley Gaines testified in front of the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee in March of 2023, the room remained silent as the legislators realized the somber reality of Riley’s testimony. While swimming for the University of Kentucky, Gaines explained that she was forced to compete against a male athlete and give up her trophy to him.

She successfully relayed the gravity of the issue when she told State Affairs, “In addition to being forced to give up our awards, our titles, and our opportunities, the NCAA forced female swimmers to share a locker room with Thomas – a 6-foot 4 – 22-year-old male, equipped with, and exposing male genitalia in a room full of vulnerable and undressed women.”

She continued on by clarifying, “Let me be clear, we were not forewarned about this arrangement, we did not give our consent and we were not asked for our consent.” Her message for the committee was promptly heard, and the bill was successfully passed with bi-partisan support and signed by the governor.

Additionally, many Texas women athletes testified including Texas college basketball player Kassidy Comer and Jen Evans, whose daughter runs track on scholarship at a Texas college.

The educational letter from Texas Values to colleges and universities comes at the perfect time considering college athletics are gearing up for the 2023-2024 school year. In their letter, the Texas Values Policy Team explains, “Allowing a male student to compete on a female designated sports team is excluding a female athlete from participating in a program where the male student typically has more opportunities. Therefore, allowing a male to compete on a woman’s athletic team violates Title IX.”

While most individuals agree with the idea that sports competition should be fair, the reality of how many advantages male athletes have in regard to physical capabilities is less widely known. As a Kinesiology major, I have first-hand knowledge of the physical and athletic capabilities of the human body. I was able to provide research from studies in public testimony at the Texas Capitol. To give an idea of what kind of advantage males have with respect to athletic performance, female athletes in the 90th percentile can leg press 1.82 lbs per pound of body weight. Males in the 40th percentile can bench 1.83lbs per pound of body weight, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and that’s just lower body strength.

When it comes to upper body strength the numbers are even more daunting for female athletes. According to the ACSM, women in the 99th percentile can bench press 0.88 lbs per pound of body weight, whereas top male athletes can bench press 1.76 lbs per pound of body weight. That’s double the amount top female athletes can lift.

The purpose of the letter that Texas Values wrote to colleges is to explain how the Texas Save Women’s Sports Law should be applied. The letter explains how the law aligns with Title IX educational laws that have not changed since their passage in 1972. The letter assures colleges that they should not be intimidated by the NCAA because the NCAA has taken a step back on having policies regarding boys playing in girls’ sports.

The Biden administration for some time has tried to rewrite Title IX to include individuals who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth, however, the Texas Values Policy Team says, “It is important to note that SB 15 will take precedence over any federal rule that or may not be implemented by the federal government. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has made no ruling indicating that having a state law protecting women from being forced to compete against men in women’s sports is unconstitutional.”

Currently, the U.S. Department of Education’s attempt to redefine “sex” to include gender identity has been put on hold until October. The Texas Values letter encourages universities to follow SB 15 once it goes into effect on September 1. Reports are circulating that the U.S. Department of Education has not taken the necessary regulatory steps to have their changes to Title IX go into effect in October.

The policy team explains that while President Biden hasn’t been successful in altering federal law, even if it does happen, SB 15 will prevail over it. The “Save Women’s Sports Law” is a historic win for women in Texas, and by successfully passing this protection, it will encourage the rest of the country to follow suit. Texas Values is willing to work with Texas colleges and universities to help them follow the law and protect women athletes. You can learn more about the movement in Texas to help college women athletes by visiting savewomensportstexas.com.

This article was written for the DC Enquirer by Texas Values Public Policy Intern Megan Benton

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