". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


As Male Takes Another Girls’ Sports Title, Movement Grows to Keep Sexes Separate

November 17, 2023

On November 8, a biological male took first place in a high school girls’ cross country championship meet in California. While the incident marked the latest example of a school allowing a gender confused male to compete against females and claim a title, a growing effort is underway across the country to keep the sexes separated for sports in order to foster fairness and safety.

In California’s Coastal Mountain Conference Championship, a male Sonoma Academy runner using the name Athena Ryan took first place in the 2.97 mile varsity cross country race, beating the second place finisher by 15 seconds. The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) noted that Ryan being allowed to race in the girls’ event and finishing first meant that “[Technology High School] freshman Josie Hill was cheated out of her Conference title.”

The trend of biological males being allowed to compete in women and girls’ sports has increased exponentially over the last five years, and the result has been predictable. The Washington Stand has tallied over 30 instances in which males have claimed sports titles in female events, with the actual number likely much higher.

The trend has not only led to the loss of athletic scholarships, titles, and prize money for women and girls, but has also led to an uptick in serious injuries. Earlier this month, a female high school field hockey player in Massachusetts suffered severe facial and dental injuries, including the loss of teeth, after a male player struck her in the face with the ball. This incident followed another in April, when a female high school volleyball player named Payton McNabb suffered a concussion and neck injury after a male player struck her in the face with a spiked ball. She continues to experience impaired vision and partial paralysis on the right side of her body from her injuries.

In response, a growing number of school officials are demanding change and implementing rules to keep male and female categories separate. Following the field hockey incident, Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent of Schools Bill Runey has demanded that there be “modifications to the rules, so we can do better in terms of player safety.” Currently, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has used the Equal Rights Amendment and Title IX to justify letting males compete in female sports. But Runey has pointed out that the girls’ teams and local community are largely not in support of the policy. “There are residents of our two towns that are in support of our concern over this,” he said. “The team is very close-knit.”

Runey went on to question the fairness of the MIAA policy. “For every male that gets a uniform on a girls’ team, that’s one less girl that gets a chance to play,” he said. “And for every boy that gets playing time, that’s less playing time for a female on the team. I’m curious as to the legal position of Title IX on that particular scenario.”

Meanwhile, school districts in other parts of the country are instituting policies that require all athletes to compete on the teams that correspond to their biological sex. On Tuesday, the Central Buck School District in Pennsylvania enacted a new policy that keeps sports teams separated by biological sex by a 6-3 vote. In August, the Alaska Board of Education voted unanimously to protect girls’ sports, which will apply to all public high schools in the state.

At the state level, the movement to protect girls’ and women’s sports has gained considerable success. As of August, 23 states have passed legislation that keep the sexes separated for sports, though a number of state laws are currently not being enforced due to pending litigation.

Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council and a former NCAA Division I athlete, expressed encouragement at the growing national movement to protect women’s sports.

“It is encouraging to see more school districts and states passing legislation protecting women’s sports,” she told The Washington Stand. “As a former female athlete from Pennsylvania, I am especially encouraged to see school districts there standing up to protect the rights of girls to compete on a fair playing field.”

Szoch continued, “Sports teach life lessons. They teach girls to compete well, to work hard, to play fairly, and to win and lose with grace. When biological men are allowed to play women’s sports, the only lesson girls learn is that because of biological differences, they will most likely come in second or not have the chance to play at all. Whether positive or negative, the lessons learned in sports impact girls long after they have hung up their laces. A willingness to abandon fair play and a basic ‘safety first’ mentality hurts girls on the field, but later in life transfers to the workplace. States who value the contributions of women to society must also take steps to protect girls’ sports.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.