Swimmers Pool Their Resources to Fight Trans Onslaught

Swimmers Pool Their Resources to Fight Trans Onslaught

January 10, 2022

For parents in the stands of last weekend's Ivy League swim meet, there was only one way to describe it: "messed up." In the 48 hours since Saturday's head-to-head match-up of two "transitioning" athletes (one male-to-female, another female-to-male), most of the sports world is still rattled. Moms and dads who were there to witness it say they still can't shake the image of one of the swimmers, Yale's Iszac Henig, pulling down the top of her suit to reveal the scars from a recent mastectomy. "I wasn't prepared for that," one shaken University of Pennsylvania parent told a reporter. "I can't wrap my head around this."

And they aren't the only ones. Everywhere, news outlets were still trying to process the fallout of a biological boy on female hormones, University of Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas, beating out biological girls at the beginning of the season -- smashing program, pool, and meet records. Thomas, who swam for three years on U. Penn's men's team, took the girl's sport by storm in 2021 after announcing to the school that he was now identifying as transgender. By that point, parents were beside themselves, firing off letters to the NCAA and the university demanding that something be done. "At stake here is the integrity of women's sports," they argued. "The precedent being set -- one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete -- is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport."

The association didn't respond -- a silence it may not have the luxury to repeat after this weekend when, as one parent said, "A man just crushed the women's team." Then, making an already uncomfortable situation even more bizarre, Henig, a female transitioning to a male (but still swimming on the girls' team), beat him. If you're wondering what the world is coming to, you're not alone! Suddenly, the entire debate over women's sports and our inherent biological differences has exploded -- and cancel culture or not -- fewer Americans are shying away.

Everyone from Olympic swimmers and commentators to former USA swimming officials are openly challenging the rules that are destroying fair competition as we know it. Even the editor-in-chief of the largest magazine in the sport, Swimming World, published a scathing column, arguing that a one-year hiatus from testosterone isn't "nearly stringent enough to create a level playing field between Thomas and the biological females [he] is racing." He compares it to the doping problem the world has tried to eradicate from sports, which isn't exactly the same, John Lohn admits, but it's "an outcome that could be as damning."

The fact is, scientists point out, you can't undo the impact of puberty. Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic physiologist, says that after ages 11 and 12, girls and boys who swim start to "diverge" when their bodies truly begin to change. Just because Thomas is taking testosterone suppressants, he told the Washington Post, "doesn't negate the hormonal impact of puberty." That kind of strength doesn't disappear overnight -- nor does his greater lung capacity, bone density, accumulated muscle mass, circulatory system, and any number of the other known genetic advantages of men over women, former USA Swimming official Cynthia Millen argues. "Bodies swim against bodies. Gender identities don't swim. He's going to be wiping out women's Olympic records, and it's not right."

For parents of these Ivy League swimmers, it's been an emotionally draining year. "All you expect is a fair chance," one mom said to a reporter anonymously, for fear of retribution. "There is no chance this year. They train hard but know that they can't beat Lia." As for the girls swimmers themselves, their hands are tied. "Pretty much everyone" has gone to the coaches, two swimmers explained confidentially. But when everyone is together, they feel pressured to fawn over Lia's accomplishments. Saddest of all, one girl on the team says she hopes when she has kids that she only has boys, "because if I have any girls that want to play sports in college, good luck. [Their opponents] are all going to be biological men saying that they're women. Right now, we have one, but what if we had three on the team? There'd be less girls competing."

For most athletes watching the sports they love crumble, silence is no longer an option. A growing chorus of Olympians, like two-time 2021 medalist Erika Brown, are sticking out their necks to speak out in a very unforgiving culture. "It's time to start standing up for women's sports," she declared. "I don't want to create any hate, only [to] speak up for what's right: We cannot allow transgender females to compete against biological women." Tennis great Martina Navratilova, who, despite identifying as gay has been at the forefront of the fight for women's sports, defended Brown against any critics, tweeting, "Erika Brown is a brave woman to speak out while still competing. She better not be cancelled for this by anyone!!!"

Inspired by these stances, other swimmers and coaches started to pile on. Hall of Fame coach Dave Salo, Jeri Shanteau, and Nancy Hogshead-Makar urged their peers to get in the game. "I would say a majority of coaches would agree with me," Salo told The Washington Times. "But again, they're very apprehensive in a collegiate environment to speak out against something like this because they'll be considered transphobic or homophobic."

The topic is "very uncomfortable for people," Hogshead-Maker agreed. But it's time to put a to stop taking "the lazy way out." The cancel culture is "scary," Shanteau understands, but the tide has officially turned. In poll after poll after poll, the vast majority of Americans have these girls' backs.

Even the transgender movement itself is admitting defeat! Last month in a "messaging guide," the Transgender Law Center bemoaned that no matter how the issue of transgender sports is framed, "our opposition wins the debate on trans youth in sports against any and all arguments we have tried on our side." They can't compete with the fact that FRC's Mary Szoch (a former Division I athlete) points out: "Every time a biological male plays a woman's sport, regardless of who comes in first, at least one woman loses -- the woman who is now sitting in the stands instead of on the bench."

For anyone worried about the blowback for speaking up in this toxic environment, know this: There's a groundswell of support for protecting the genders as God created them. Just look at what happened in state legislatures, where courageous leaders made 2021 a record-breaking year for fairness in sports. And, based on the coverage of last weekend's meet, that's just the beginning. A group of four female Pennsylvania lawmakers are already ramping up the pressure for a hearing on their bill -- HB 972 -- immediately.

As Beth Stelzer of Save Women's Sports has said, "We've finally gotten to the point that the bullies can't shut us up anymore. There are enough of us." Find out what you can do in your state by clicking over to the map at Save Women's Sports. Then, send your own letter to the NCAA, urging them to change their transgender policy. A sample letter and contact information can be found here.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Class Warfare: States Head into 2022 Fighting Curriculum

January 10, 2022

While school districts are fighting over when students should come back to school, other leaders are trying to make sure critical race theory isn't there when they do. State legislatures are gearing up to kick off their 2022 sessions, and a slew of conservatives have one goal in mind: shut down CRT and other radical curriculum in the classroom. And Democrats are concerned their side isn't taking the threat seriously enough.

The lay of the land since Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governorship in Virginia has changed -- and even the media can feel it. With foreboding, they're reporting about the avalanche of legislation set to be considered in the next few months -- most of which takes aim at the Democrats' golden calf: public school indoctrination. Politico details all of the states getting ready for a big push on priorities like parents' rights, CRT, radical sex education, and more. "There is a huge red wave coming," Missouri State Rep. Brian Seitz (R), a pastor and business owner, says. "Virginia is just a microcosm of the rest of the United States."

His state, alongside South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and a half-dozen more are primed and ready to take on the teachers' unions, school boards, and extreme Left. So far, the Democrats' only response, blowing off parents or dismissing the trends as make believe, has been a huge misfire. In a lot of regions, like Virginia, it's only managed to motivate citizens more. The Brookings Institution's Rashawn Ray insists, "We have hit an ideological civil war that has spilled over into the classrooms for our kids. It's the fight for the democratic future of America that's going to control future elections." And so far, parents are winning.

Indiana State Rep. J.D. Prescott, one of countless legislators making education a top priority, said on "Washington Watch" Thursday that "more parents are paying attention to what's going on inside the classrooms" and, as a result, they're becoming "more and more concerned." "And I want to be careful, [because] I don't think this is in every classroom or every teacher is presenting this. But it only takes a small percentage of teachers to be presenting these divisive concepts and other obscene material to really cause damage within our school system and really push a liberal propaganda narrative, to be quite frank."

His bill, Indiana's HB 1040, puts CRT and explicit material in the bullseye. "It's a very comprehensive bill," Prescott explained. "First off, we define what divisive concepts are and ban them within the classroom. We also ban anti-American ideology from being taught and promoted within the classroom. We create a complaint process that goes through the local school [boards] or through the Department of Education and with overall review through the attorney general's office in Indiana. And the enforcement mechanism is really key to making sure that the law that we pass here is actually a productive law that... can really accomplish our goals of keeping this material out of the classroom."

The driving factor, Prescott says, is the number of parents who contacted him. And talking to his colleagues around the state, he isn't the only one. "It's not just parents from one portion of the state [that are] having these issues. This is really all over the state. So I just want to make sure that's being addressed as well."

One of the things that's helped the GOP get so much traction is the coordination between chambers. Voters have been so engaged that people on both sides of the Indiana statehouse have started drafting multiple bills. Tag-teaming with state senators, the Hoosier conservatives are attacking education from every angle. A proposal in the state Senate, SB 167, would demand a curriculum review committee of parents, teachers, and community members. If it passes, all educational material will have to be posted online with an option for parents to opt out. It also limits how much counseling schools can offer students without informing the parent, so that dangerous ideas like transgenderism or abortion wouldn't be condoned without parents' knowledge.

Taking a cue from Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia, where there's been such an uprising over school library material, SB 167's sponsor, Republican State Sen. Scott Baldwin tries to weed out those problems too. "Blatantly harmful material deemed illegal on the street corner shouldn't be considered legal in a school library," he argued. "I am simply seeking to even the playing field so that materials illegal outside a school are also illegal inside a school."

It's time to empower parents, not sideline them. If you want to help, Prescott says it's simple. "Reach out to your state representatives, state senators, let them know that you say this is an issue that we need to be addressing during this session of the General Assembly." Chances are, your state will be in some form or fashion. Let those leaders know they have your support!

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Don't Let Biden off the Hook for the Disaster He Left in Afghanistan

January 10, 2022

The media has largely moved on from the Afghanistan debacle, and many are all too eager to sweep the consequences of President Biden's botched withdrawal under the rug. Yet, the repercussions will last lifetimes.

Currently, hundreds of parents and family members are seeking help for their starving children. Last year, the United Nations warned that one million Afghan children were at risk of starvation, and now many are struggling to make it through the winter.

On the best of days, Afghanistan has a near-universal poverty rate. Now, a famine and economic collapse are making it virtually impossible for many to meet their families' basic needs. In sheer desperation, some parents are being driven to sell their young daughters into future marriages just so the family will have a few months' worth of food. It's an unthinkable choice -- but one that some feel is their only chance to evade death by starvation when there is no work to be found.

One father's decision has him in agony. He told CNN reporters that he could no longer sleep at night because he sold his nine-year-old daughter into marriage. The guilt and shame have "broken" him. Following unsuccessful attempts to find work, even traveling to the provincial capital, he said, "We are eight family members. I have to sell to keep other family members alive." The money from the sale will feed the family for only a few months.

Sadly, the economic collapse in the wake of the Taliban's rise was predicted and shouldn't take Biden administration officials by surprise. The question now is how to respond.

The U.S. government is rightly being careful to avoid giving any financial aid to the Taliban. And although the United States donated funds through international humanitarian aid groups, Olivia Enos, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, has pointed out that current aid levels are expected to meet only 40 percent of the anticipated needs to get through the winter months. The Biden administration should seek effective solutions to get substantial help directly to suffering Afghans.

When it comes to promoting religious freedom in Afghanistan, the U.S. government has always fallen far short. The past 20 years of U.S. involvement in the country failed to produce a cultural acceptance of religious freedom or pluralism. The consequences continue. And for the Afghan Christians most endangered by the rise of the Taliban, the Biden administration's actions (and inaction) were shameful.

Although certain groups of Afghan nationals were given Priority 2 (P-2) designation for the U.S. refugee program -- which allows more direct access for individuals to apply when they are at immediate risk -- religious minorities were not offered P-2 status. This is in spite of the Taliban openly threatening religious minorities and the number of minorities who would have utilized the program being small and manageable. The Biden administration should fix this error and extend P-2 status to Afghan religious minorities.

When private NGOs tried to help vulnerable Christians, women, and others fleeing the Taliban, the State Department was accused of thwarting these rescue efforts. Josh Youssef, president of Help the Persecuted, helped organize refugee flights out of Afghanistan with endangered religious minorities. When he reached out to the State Department for help, he was told that he would have a better chance of the plane taking off if there were LGBT-identifying persons on board.

But religious minorities aren't the only people with reason to fear. Amid the Taliban's rollback of women's rights, many women who had public professions are scrambling to hide their identities. Female athletes are on the run, changing locations every few weeks to avoid being caught and punished by the Taliban.

Women who served in the Afghan military or police are also hiding. Samima, who served in the Afghan Air Force, fled to a new location with her husband after she received phone calls from Taliban fighters and the Taliban began going door to door looking for former Afghan military members. She told the Wall Street Journal, "Thousands of girls like me are receiving threats, face an uncertain future and are being tracked by the Taliban."

Countless Afghan girls and female university students have been kept at home and out of school since the Taliban's return. For many, their dreams were put on hold in 2021, perhaps permanently.

Meanwhile, there are still Americans who remain stuck in Afghanistan. Not to mention the countless Afghan allies who worked for the U.S. military and were promised protection in just such a circumstance as a U.S. withdrawal.

The White House would be happy for us all to forget that the grossly mishandled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan ever happened. But we must not. America spent 20 years involved in this country; the people of Afghanistan deserve better than to be abandoned and ignored in their hour of most dire need. Furthermore, the American people deserve far better leadership than President Biden has shown throughout this ordeal largely of his own making. By electing Joe Biden, Americans entrusted him with our foreign policy. The resulting human suffering in Afghanistan ought to be remembered as a grave stain upon Biden's presidency.