OP-ED: Keefer: Protecting female athletes’ right to compete
Decades ago, woman fought hard to be treated as equals in the wide world of extracurricular sports, the culmination of which was Title IX to require schools that receive federal dollars to provide equal athletic opportunities to male and female athletes. The emphasis was girls should not have to complete with boys for their chances to follow their passions to fairly compete in athletics against other girls.
Now, girls are once again being forced to compete against boys. This time, however, they are being pitted against biological boys on the field. That is why I joined with fellow female representatives in support of Rep. Barb Gleim’s, R-Cumberland, Save Women’s Sports Act.
The legislation would protect opportunities for girls in athletics by ensuring they are not forced to compete against biological males playing on women’s teams. Having separate biologically specific teams, which Title IX protects, furthers efforts to promote women’s equality by providing opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their skill, strength and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to receive accolades, college scholarships and the numerous other long-term benefits from pursuing athletic endeavors.
Russia is currently banned from competing in the Olympics and other world championships for its massive systemic doping scandal that gave its athletes a competitive edge. Many of the country’s athletes, including females, tested positive for steroids that boosted testosterone levels to enhance performance.
Boys have much higher levels of testosterone, which is responsible for increased muscle mass, than girls. Biological males have an advantage over their female counterparts, the same advantage Russian athletes sought to overcome through doping.
As woman who has competed in school sports, and the mother of a daughter who has also competed, I have experienced and seen the benefits firsthand athletics has on girls. Female athletes have higher self-esteem greater confidence and are more likely to get better grades and graduate.
Sports teaches all participants the value of hard work, how to deal with defeat, a will to win and the importance of integrity in competition. It is more than fair to expect and demand that female athletes compete against other biological females. To lose that would be to abandon all those brave, strong women who blazed the trail for Title IX so that female athletes have the same opportunity to compete as the males. We have come so far, and for the future and success of all young women, it is imperative that we stand strong and protect their athletic opportunities.