Women's Group Sues UPenn For Allowing Lia Thomas To Compete On Women’s Swim Team 

Jay Maxson | April 1, 2022
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Lia - formerly William - Thomas’s biggest splash yet has occurred outside the Pennsylvania University swimming pool, as Concerned Women for America (CWFA) has filed a civil rights complaint against the Ivy League school that allowed Thomas, a biological male, to compete on its women’s swimming team this past season.

CWFA charged that Penn U failed to protect the rights of collegiate female athletes by permitting Thomas to swim on the women’s team where, with his biological advantage, he won a national championship and made a mockery of the women’s sport. 

"The future of women's sports is at risk and the equal rights of female athletes are being infringed. We filed a formal civil rights complaint against UPenn in response to this injustice," Penny Nance, president and chief executive of CWFA, said in a statement, "Any school that defies federal civil rights law by denying women equal opportunities in athletic programs, forcing women to compete against athletes who are biologically male must be held accountable." 

CWFA Press Secretary Katie Everett told Campus Reform, “A great injustice is being committed against women student-athletes at UPenn and beyond in direct violation of federal law.”  

In addition, Concerned Women For America noted that several of Thomas’s teammates complained about Penn enabling a hostile environment in its locker room, which they say has had a negative effect on the team.

Thomas reportedly showed off his male genitalia to teammates, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere for the women. Coaches reportedly refused to honor teammates’ request to make Thomas use an alternate locker room. 

CWFA’s complaint also argues that Thomas, who had displayed a mediocre performance on the men's team for three years prior to "transitioning," took away a place on the women's team that otherwise would have been occupied by a woman. By competing against biological females, he then deprived women of a fair and level playing field in competition, CWFA asserts, adding that this grave injustice “violates the most fundamental principles of equity in Title IX's historic efforts to promote equal opportunity in sports in educational institutions.” 

In its complaint, CWFA also calls on the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights to "act urgently" against the university "before this abject denial of biological impact and flagrant sex discrimination against female student-athletes affects more and more female students across the country." 

Sixteen of Thomas’s female teammates wrote a letter to the Washington Post this season stating Thomas has a biological and unfair advantage over his female competitors.

Thomas won four Ivy League championships, set multiple records, and has also won one NCAA National Championship this season. He has completed his college eligibility, hopes to enter law school, and is aiming to win a spot to compete in the 2024 Olympics as a “female swimmer.”