Yesterday, our friends at Concerned Women for America (CWA) filed a formal Civil Rights Complaint under Title IX with the U.S. Department of Education against the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) for refusing to protect the rights of college female athletes under federal law.
UPenn continues to allow male athletes who identify as women to compete in women’s sports. Lia Thomas (formerly Will Thomas), a Division I swimmer who is biologically male but rostered as a senior on UPenn’s women’s team, has competed throughout the season displacing female teammates in events and shattering pool, league, and national records.
Thomas is anatomically and biologically a male with physical capacities that are different from anatomically and biologically female athletes, which extends an unfair advantage and strips female student-athletes of opportunities afforded to them by law. The complaint also cites reports that Thomas’ own teammates have complained about UPenn allowing a hostile environment to fester in its locker room which has put them in apprehension.
As the CWA complaint explains, the situation is untenable:
Teammates say the female athletes feel uncomfortable changing in their own locker room, something Title IX specifically addresses.
"It's definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women," one swimmer on the team told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
Lia has told her teammates that she dates women.
While Lia covers herself with a towel sometimes, there's a decent amount of nudity, the swimmer said. She and others have had a glimpse at her private parts.
She stated that team members have raised their concern with the coach, trying to get Thomas ousted from the female locker room, but got nowhere.
"Multiple swimmers have raised it, multiple different times," the UPenn swimmer said. "But we were basically told that we could not ostracize Lia by not having her in the locker room and that there's nothing we can do about it, that we basically have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our own locker room."
What has happened at the University of Pennsylvania, Ivy League, and the NCAA is a complete failure of compliance obligation under Title IX, alleges the CWA complaint.
Title IX requires equal educational benefits and opportunities for students, including in athletics, on the basis of sex. The federal law extends to any school receiving federal financial assistance, including public K-12 schools and almost every college and university in America. Thomas was also allowed to compete in the Ivy League Championships as a member of UPenn women’s swimming team and is currently competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, in direct violation of that law.
“The future of women’s sports is at risk and the equal rights of female athletes are being infringed,” said Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America. “We filed a formal civil rights complaint against UPenn in response to this injustice.
“Any school that defies federal civil rights law by denying women equal opportunities in athletic programs, forcing women to compete against athletes who are biologically male must be held accountable.”
Protecting all female student-athletes from this type of injustice is the very essence of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights mission to ensure equal access to educational opportunities and benefits the law requires under Title IX. We urge the Department of Education to act promptly and favorably on this complaint.
Concerned Women for America
NCAA womens swimming
Civil Rights Complaint
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Education Office of Civil Rights