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California Library Stops Women from Advocating to Protect Their Sports

Librarians often pushed LGBT materials during Moms for Liberty events and actively sought to recruit a group that hosts ‘drag queen story hours.’
Mathew Hoffmann
Shelves of books are seen at a public library

On December 2, Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson won the women’s Illinois State Cyclocross Championship, taking the gold and silver spots on the podium. Johnson and Williamson are both men who claim to be women. This is not their first time taking the top two spots in a women’s cycling competition. In fact, Williamson has 18 first-place finishes since 2017.

This is yet another example of how males competing in women’s sports throws the playing field off-balance. These stories of men running away with the competition aren’t hard to find, and the list continues to grow. Female athletes around the world are rightly upset, and they’re speaking out. At least, as much as they’re allowed to. 

Sophia Lorey is a former college soccer player who has faced censorship for defending women’s sports. A local chapter of Moms for Liberty in Yolo County, California invited her to speak at an event held at a county library on August 20. But just a few minutes into her speech, a library official demanded she leave. Her offense? Referring to men as men. As Sophia began to speak about “male athletes,” she was shouted down by protestors in the room as the library’s regional manager claimed that her speech violated library policy for “misgendering.” A viral video captured the tense moments in the library before Sophia was ultimately forced to end her presentation. Not long after, the library shut the whole event down.

Yolo County library officials employed textbook viewpoint discrimination. In the process of filing a lawsuit against the library, Alliance Defending Freedom, where I serve as legal counsel, learned that library staff referred to Moms for Liberty events as “deeply disturbing” and looked for ways to enforce policies to make it difficult for the group to reserve rooms and hold events in the public building. Librarians often pushed LGBT materials during Moms for Liberty events and actively sought to recruit a group that hosts “drag queen story hours.” After multiple instances of discriminating against these concerned women, the library’s regional manager invited protestors to the August 20 event with hopes that enough people would enter the room to require the fire marshal to shut down the event.

Clearly, Yolo County librarians have a favored message they wish the public to receive. But as government officials, they are expressly forbidden from picking winners and losers in public debate. Public servants imposing an ideology on citizens is antithetical to America’s DNA; our Founders fought to give us the constitutional rights that government officials are threatening across the country.

ADF asked the library to change its policies and allow Moms for Liberty to hold its event as originally planned, but unfortunately, the library stubbornly refused, leading to a lawsuit filed by ADF and the Institute for Free Speech earlier this month.

Male athletes all over the country are robbing women of a fair chance at competition—from Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson, to Lia Thomas, to June Eastwood, and so many more. While many women and girls are bravely standing up against unfair and unsafe competition, radical activists are trying to rob them of their ability to speak, whether it’s violent mobs at universities or state officials wielding their power to ensure only one ideology dominates at your local library. 

If a woman can’t say, “It is unfair for girls to compete against male athletes”—and if government officials insist that she refer to these male athletes as “girls”—how can these women present their case? Unfair competition isn’t solved by unfair discrimination. The U.S. Constitution provides an answer, and that is more speech, not less. Moms for Liberty in Yolo County and its allies wanted to have a dialogue on an important and widely discussed issue. They welcomed healthy discourse, but instead, they were shouted down by protestors and booted out by government officials. That is simply un-American and unconstitutional. We can do better, and we can start by allowing women to speak.

Mathew Hoffmann
Mathew Hoffmann
Legal Counsel
Mathew Hoffmann serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Academic Freedom.