After protests and vandalism, 'Take Back Title IX' tour bus rolls into Washington

Martina Navratilova, siding against the Biden administration rewrite of Title IX, blasts the protesters who vandalized the "Take Back Title IX" bus in North Carolina.

Published: June 23, 2024 10:22pm

(The Center Square) -

From another encouraging tour stop on Thursday to the disheartening discovery of a vandalized bus on Friday in North Carolina, advocates to save women's sports are next in Washington, D.C.

And the Independent Women’s Forum coalition and its Our Bodies Our Sports “Take Back Title IX” Bus Tour may be resolute as ever.

Sunday marks the 52nd anniversary of President Richard Nixon signing into law Title IX, the 1972 landmark statute guaranteeing equal opportunities for women and men in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. It also kicks off National Women’s Sports Week, and the tour bus and its riders with more than 20 states already visited is in the nation's capital.

The tour stopped in Chapel Hill on Thursday evening for a rally at The Pitch. Friday, Carrboro police were investigating the messages that covered most all of the bus. “F-bombs” were prevalent, along with derogatory messages about female anatomy and the word transphobia.

The group bringing awareness to the rewrite of Title IX from the Biden administration, scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, was even labeled a hate group by those defacing the bus.

Eighteen-time tennis major singles champion Martina Navratilova, a part of the tour but not in North Carolina, on Friday responded to a social media post saying the coalition was spreading bigotry, hate and their action comes with consequences. Navratilova wrote, “When you excuse this kind of behavior, where is the hatred? Look in the mirror.”

And while some have said it's a political aisle issue, Navratilova posted she is surely a Democrat, not the only one from the left on the tour, and that it is not a partisan battle.

Brianna Howard, coalition manager and bus tour manager, said in a release, “It’s disgusting but not surprising to see such a blatant anti-woman attack on a tour bus – our home on the road – that represents a national movement fighting to preserve equal opportunity, fairness, and safety for women in athletics. The Title IX rewrite from the Biden administration is in itself just that – an attack on women.”

Payton McNabb, the volleyball player from Hiawasse Dam High School in the North Carolina mountains injured by a boy saying he was a girl so he could play, said, “After speaking at our rally in Chapel Hill on Thursday, my heart sank reading the hateful comments written on our bus by vandals. As someone living with the consequences of allowing a biological man to play in women's sports, I know firsthand how important it is to protect women's and girls' sports and spaces. We must continue to sound the alarm on the Biden administration's new Title IX regulations.”

McNabb has dealt with partial paralysis on her right side, cognitive issues and headaches. A spiked ball hit her in the head, ending her prep career.

An April fact sheet released by the U.S. Department of Education gave clarification to the proposed changes. Included, "The proposed rule would establish that policies violate Title IX when they categorically ban transgender students from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity just because of who they are."

Sylvia Hatchell, former national champion women’s basketball coach at North Carolina, pointed out the younger girls attending and said, “We need to keep a level playing field.”

She challenged everyone to get involved.

Macy Petty, former volleyball player at Lee University, said, “We will not be the generation that sits on the sidelines.”

The bus tour stops at The Bullpen in Washington on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

The fallout has been immense, including the threat to women's spaces; litigation involving former All-Americans Kylee Alons of N.C. State, Riley Gaines of Kentucky and others against the NCAA; and states proposing and in some cases such as North Carolina enacting legislation.

Alons, a two-time national champion and 31-time All-American for the Wolfpack, in the summer of 2023 told her story of being forced to share a locker room and “compete against a male athlete” at the NCAA championships. Alons, 12-time All-American Gaines – who has led the national wave to save women’s sports – and 14 others have sued the NCAA.

Rather than use a locker room to change where Lia Thomas – who swam three years for the Penn men’s team before swimming for the women’s squad – was also present, Alons and some teammates found a storage closet.

Gaines has rallied groups and individuals to save women’s sports from intrusion by men and boys. She and Paula Scanlan, a swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania and teammate of Thomas, have been most visible in part because of the NCAA Championships involving Thomas.

On June 13, a Louisiana judge stopped implementation of the Title IX rewrite in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. On Monday, a Kentucky judge halted the Biden administration’s rewrite in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

Also on June 13, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce – chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. – passed a Congressional Review Act to nullify the Biden administration’s Title IX rule. It would, if passed, formally dispense “with the administration’s Title IX rule so that educational institutions can continue protecting the safety of women and girls and their access to educational opportunities.”

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