Mar. 29, 2022

Education Committee approves crucial women’s rights bill

HARRISBURG – In a move to support women’s rights in competitive sports, the House Education Committee today approved the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (House Bill 972), announced prime sponsors and former school athletes Reps. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Dawn Keefer (R-York), Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton/Centre) and Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny).

House Bill 972 would protect opportunities for women and girls in athletics by ensuring women are not forced to compete against biological males playing on women’s sports teams.

“We maintain that women’s own competitive category in athletics, guaranteed under federal Title IX law, needs to be preserved because women lose out on having a fair playing field when forced to compete against biological men,” said Gleim. “The reality is that identities don’t play sports, bodies do. And the male body has strength, speed and endurance abilities that women’s bodies simply do not. Just look at Lia Thomas, a biological male who competed on the UPenn men’s swim team for three years before switching to the women’s team and smashing women’s records. This bill is needed to ensure everyone, biological men and women, can compete fairly.”

Rep. Barb Gleim before the House Education Committee 

“Having separate teams for men and women is the time-tested way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to showcase their talents and be champions,” said White. “Just imagine how a young woman feels when missing out on a spot on a team to a biological male. She loses more than just an opportunity. She loses potential friendships, competitive opportunities and life lessons gained through being part of a team. House Bill 972 supports every young girl’s athletic pursuit.”

Rep. Martina White before the House Education Committee 

Under the bill, an athletic team or sport designated for females, women or girls may not be open to students of the male sex. In addition, a student deprived of an athletic opportunity or who suffers direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this act by a college or public school would be able to bring a cause of action for injunctive relief, psychological and physical damage, and the costs involved in filing a lawsuit against the college or high school.

“For several decades, women have fought hard for equal rights in sports. Within the past couple of decades, professional women’s sports, such as professional basketball and ice hockey, have finally grown by leaps and bounds. These advancements could all but be erased by allowing biologically male athletes to compete against females. This bill would protect women and honor the legacy of all the brave, strong women who blazed the trails in the sports world.”

Rep. Valerie Gaydos before the House Education Committee 

“My competitive nature probably comes from my years as a high school volleyball player when I won an MVP award for an entire tournament,” said Borowicz. “Realistically, I probably would not have reached this level of success or contributed to winning three straight state championships if my team had to compete against biological males. All things considered, the opportunity for girls to compete on a level athletic playing field must be defended at all costs. I’m truly honored to stand alongside my fellow women legislators in cheering on our outstanding student women athletes by advancing the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act another step closer to the finish line.”

Rep. Stephanie Borowicz before the House Education Committee 

“Let’s be clear, this legislation is about preserving fairness and protecting women,” said Gaydos. “This does not ban transgender students from playing sports. It requires biological males to play on men’s teams and biological woman to play on women’s team. This is also about safety. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) currently has separate divisions based on age, school sizes and classification. On Jan. 23, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that says transgendered athletes must be allowed to compete against women – a protected category. This executive order reverses decades of progress for women’s sports. House Bill 972 restores the intent of federal Title IX established in 1972 for girls to compete on a level playing field in athletics.”

The bill passed the committee by a vote of 15-9. It now moves the full House for consideration.

Watch the entire Education Committee meeting here.

Representative Barbara Gleim
199th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives