WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Paula Scanlan joins Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) as a Stand With Women Spokeswoman and Advisor. Scanlan, a former member of the Penn Women’s Swim Team and ex-teammate of biological male Lia Thomas, adds her critical voice and story to the fight to preserve the integrity of women’s sports, sounding alarm on the threats to women’s equality, privacy, respect, and opportunities, and standing up for the right to free speech.

Inspired by fellow female athletes, Paula broke her silence in June 2023 on her experience as a teammate of Lia Thomas and the efforts of her college’s administration and student body to silence her and suppress her right to free speech. In a video with Daily Wire, she stated that “My only regret is not speaking out sooner.” 

In the short time since then, Scanlan has worked fearlessly with IWF and IWV to save women’s sports against the NCAA policies that affected her, her teammates, and fellow female athletes. 

Paula Scanlan with her mother at a collegiate meet in 2022.
Scanlan at the 2015 YMCA national championships.

From a young age, swimming at her local YMCA, Scanlan enjoyed the benefits and opportunities guaranteed by Title IX, going on to compete at the collegiate level. Scanlan is committed to fighting for the future of female athletes living their dream. Scanlan has encouraged females, especially athletes being forced into situations like hers, to come forward, share their stories, and join her in making real change to protect women and girls everywhere.

Scanlan has spoken out at press conferences, including IWF’s “Our Bodies, Our Sports” Rallies in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Springfield, Illinois, dedicated to giving female athletes a platform to share their experiences competing against men. In addition, she has signed her name to IWF’s “Keep Women’s Sports FemaleOpen Letter to athletic associations and governing bodies, policy makers, and government officials, joined IWV and members of both the U.S. Senate and House in Washington, D.C. to establish National Women’s Sports Week, appeared on IWF’s “High Noon” podcast with Inez Stepman to discuss the effects of institutions that refuse to acknowledge sex differences, and attended the Independent Council on Women’s Sports Summit in Denver, Colorado, to celebrate female athletes. 

Scanlan in Washington, D.C. at congressional press conference to establish National Women’s Sports Week.

“Paula is a perfect fit for Independent Women’s Forum. She is courageous, compassionate, and disciplined. As is the case for countless women athletes, Paula’s experience in sports helped her gain the skills that she will now use in the world outside of athletic competition, to help us further our mission at IWF and ensure that women and girls continue to have equal opportunity. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to our all-women team,” said IWF President Carrie Lukas. 

“I am excited to partner with Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice to advance our shared mission of defending women’s single-sex spaces, advocating for women’s safety, privacy and opportunity, and standing for the right to free speech. This common-sense stance is pro-woman, and I encourage anyone, even those with differing opinions, to stand with us to protect women everywhere.” said Scanlan. 

Paula Scanlan joins Independent Women’s Voice Advisor, Riley Gaines, and Independent Women’s Forum Spokeswoman, Payton McNabb, in the fight to save women’s sports, preserve women’s spaces, protect equal opportunities, and stand up for free speech.

Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice, IWF’s c4 sister organization, are leading the fight to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and documenting stories of female athletes across the country. Learn more below:

  • IWF’s Female Athlete Storytelling Drive features real stories from women athletes and coaches detailing the unfair personal experiences of competing with and against male-bodied athletes. Learn more HERE.
  • IWF and Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) filed a formal comment with the Department of Education opposing the Biden administration’s plan to gut Title IX by allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports and drove more than 15,000 public comments to the Department. The comment can be found HERE
  • IWF and IWLC have produced a first of its kind report entitled, “Competition Report: Title IX, Male-Bodied Athletes, and the Threat To Women’s Sports,” to help athletic associations, policymakers, and courts understand the growing threat to female athletes. The second edition was released earlier this week. Read HERE
  • At the USA Cycling Women’s Pro Road National Championship in June, IWF, in partnership with the Inga Thompson Foundation, held an “Our Bodies, Our Sports: Keep Women’s Cycling FEMALE” rally and press conference – the only on the ground protest of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and USA Cycling guidelines allowing biological men to compete in the women’s division. The UCI met IWF’s demands: The July decision by UCI to bar biological men from competing in women’s events came just weeks after this rally.
  • IWF launched an open letter and public sign-on campaign spearheaded by over 170 female athletes ranging from the high school, collegiate, and Olympic levels urging athletic associations, policy makers, and government officials not to destroy female athletics. The letter can be found HERE.
  • IWV works to protect women’s rights and preserve women’s spaces with the Women’s Bill of Rights model legislation, which has been passed in Kansas and Tennessee. Learn more HERE
Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.
Independent Women’s Voice fights for women by expanding support for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.