WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee markup of the Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) calls on Congress to support and advance this legislation and protect the integrity of women’s sports. Like Independent Women’s Voice and Independent Women’s Law Center’s Women’s Bill of Rights (WBOR) model legislation, the bill establishes common definitions for words like ‘sex’, ‘woman,’ and ‘man.’ .

The bicameral bill, sponsored by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Representative Greg Steube (R-FL), modernizes the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act of 1978 to prohibit any sports governing body recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) from allowing men to participate in athletic events intended for women and will apply to any amateur sports governing body recognized by the USOC. The bill recognizes that policies and decisions regarding athletic participation must follow the science

IWV Ambassador Paula Scanlan, a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer forced to undress in front of ex-teammate of Lia (Will) Thomas 18 times per week, joined Rep. Steube and lawmakers on Capitol Hill earlier this year to call attention to the growing threats to women’s sports on National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

“I appreciate Senator Tuberville and Representative Stuebe for their leadership on protecting women and girls in athletics. Allowing even a single female athlete to be displaced by a male is discriminatory, risky, and unfair. And it must be stopped. That is precisely what lifelong sports advocate Senator Ted Stevens would want — equality in sports, preserving the safety, fairness and equal opportunity for female athletes. This bill will do just that,” said Paula Scanlan, Independent Women’s Voice Ambassador. 

“As a former athlete who was forced to compete against a male, resulting in a life-altering injury, it’s crucial to recognize that allowing men’s participation in women’s sports not only deprives women of opportunities but also exposes them to significant danger. I deeply admire Representative Steube and Senator Tuberville for their leadership in addressing this issue and standing up for fairness and safety, especially for women,” said Payton McNabb, Independent Women’s Voice Ambassador. 

Payton McNabb’s story, upon the introduction of the Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act for U.S. House Judiciary Committee markup, was highlighted. Last fall, McNabb was knocked unconscious and exhibited a fencing response, which indicates a traumatic brain injury, following a forceful blow to the head from a volleyball spike by a male playing on the opponent’s women’s team. The sheer impact of the ball has left McNabb with significant long-term physical and mental effects, including impaired vision, partial paralysis, and anxiety and depression. McNabb was a star three-sport athlete and had hopes of playing softball in college. Those dreams were cut short due to the injury at the hands of a male athlete allowed to play on the women’s court. 

IWV Ambassadors Payton McNabb, Paula Scanlan, and Riley Gaines.

IWV has been leading the fight for women’s sports, calling on lawmakers to preserve equal athletic opportunity for both sexes. IWV applauds the continued leadership of Sen. Tuberville and Rep. Steube to stand up for women and girls and the fair and level playing field they deserve and urges all members of Congress to work toward the bill’s swift passage.



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.