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Civil Rights Complaint Filed Against UPenn for Allowing Biological Males to Compete in Women’s Sports

AP Photo/John Bazemore

On Thursday, non-profit legislative action committee Concerned Women for America filed a formal Civil Rights Complaint under Title IX with the U.S. Department of Education against University of Pennsylvania for refusing to protect college female athletes’ rights under federal law. 


“UPenn continues to allow male athletes who identify as women to compete in women’s sports,” a press release from CWA states. “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.”

As Townhall has covered, Thomas is a biological male who competed on the UPenn men’s swim team for three seasons before competing on the women’s team senior year. Earlier this year, an unnamed female UPenn swimmer told The Washington Examiner that Thomas “compares herself to Jackie Robinson” and “mocks” competing on the women’s swim team.

“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 press release continued. “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.”


Matt covered last month how Thomas reportedly “still retains her biologically male genitalia — which are sometimes exposed” in the locker room, “and is attracted to women.” The unnamed female UPenn swimmer who made these remarks to Daily Mail said the issue was brought up to the coaches by “multiple swimmers” at “multiple different times.”

Townhall also reported last month how a letter was sent to Philadelphia city officials and school officials at UPenn that stated there is a “potential violation” of Pennsylvania criminal code and the University of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence and Stalking Policy due to Thomas sharing the locker room with female teammates.

CWA’s press release explained that Title IX requires all educational benefits and opportunities for students, including in athletics, on the basis of sex. This applies to any educational institution receiving federal financial assistance, including colleges and universities. 

“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 release notes.


“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.”


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