Raleigh, N.C. — Independent Women’s Voice (IWV), the nation’s leading women’s organization, and its grassroots arm, Independent Women’s Network (IWN), celebrate the North Carolina legislature’s vote to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. IWV and IWN played a crucial role in advocating for the inclusion of collegiate level sports as part of the bill.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act will prohibit biological men and boys from participating in sports designated for women and girls at the middle school, high school, and collegiate levels – a crucial step towards protecting equal athletic opportunity, privacy, and safety for women and girls.

Last April, Independent Women’s Voice advisor and 12x All-American swimmer Riley Gaines met with North Carolina lawmakers and testified alongside Independent Women’s Forum spokeswoman Payton McNabb to advocate for passage of a women’s sports bill that would protect the integrity of women’s sports, including NCAA collegiate sports. Hearings for the bill prompted McNabb to speak out for the first time after being severely injured by a male athlete participating on the women’s volleyball team at her North Carolina high school. McNabb is still recovering from her injuries, and continues to face other health struggles as a result of the incident.

IWV submitted additional written testimony from North Carolina native and IWV vice president for policy Hadley Heath Manning. Manning is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Independent Women’s Network Chapter Leader Megan Burke, a 2x NCAA champion runner from the University of North Carolina, organized a number of former UNC female athletes to join her in submitting testimony in support of the legislation. They penned a local op-ed on the issue for The Carolina Journal.

“Last fall, I was knocked unconscious after a forceful blow to the head from a volleyball spike by a male on our opponent’s girls’ team. The impact of the ball has left me with long-term physical and mental damage, including blurred vision, partial paralysis on my right side, anxiety, and depression. Because of this new law in North Carolina, female athletes – my little sister, my cousins, and my teammates – will no longer be forced to risk injury at the hands of a male opponent. Thank you to the North Carolina legislature for doing what’s right and fair and just, and for showing girls like me that our opportunities and safety are worth defending. I am proud to be a part of the team with Independent Women’s Voice who took a stand for this to happen,” said Payton McNabb. 

“I am thrilled that the North Carolina state legislature has voted to override Governor Cooper’s senseless veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. I have seen firsthand how female athletes at all levels and across various sports are losing not only awards but opportunities to compete at all. This legislation puts an end to the unfair and discriminatory practice of ignoring biological differences. What happened to Payton McNabb won’t be allowed to happen to any other girl in North Carolina,” said Riley Gaines. 

“I was so blessed by my time as a runner at The University of North Carolina, and I am overjoyed to know that thanks to this legislation, my two little girls and all girls in North Carolina will have the same opportunities to compete. North Carolina has stepped up to protect girls’ sports and the integrity of fair competition. As an Independent Women’s Network Chapter Leader, I could not be more proud of the work we did to advocate for this legislation and ask that our female records be protected,” said Megan Burke. 

“I applaud the North Carolina legislature for taking a common-sense, pro-woman stance by overriding Governor Cooper’s veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. No young woman, least of all those who are adversely impacted with sexual trauma as I was, should be forced to share a locker room with a biological male. And because of this legislation, in North Carolina they won’t. I am proud of Independent Women’s Voice advocates who called for this bill to include collegiate athletes so women like me won’t face the same discrimination that my teammates and I did,” said Paula Scanlan, Stand with Women spokeswoman and advisor at Independent Women’s Voice.

IW is leading the fight to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and push back against those seeking to erase women. Learn more below:

  • Independent Women’s Forum’s Female Athlete Storytelling Drive featuring real stories from real women athletes can be found HERE.
  • Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Law Center have produced a first of its kind report entitled, “Competition: 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. Read HERE
  • Independent Women’s Voice’s Women’s Bill of Rights model legislation codifying the definition of sex-based terms to provide a necessary default in code and law has been enacted in Kansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma this year. More states seek to implement legislation to stand with women.



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.


Independent Women’s Network, a project of Independent Women’s Voice, in partnership with Independent Women’s Forum, is a positive, supportive community of engaged, informed, and activated women working together to inspire, interact, influence, and have impact.