Why Are Editors at USA Today Censoring Women?

Connecticut high-school athlete Chelsea Mitchell (Courtesy Alliance Defending Freedom)
We cannot have an honest debate when one side attempts to eliminate biological reality and the words that reflect it.

America is at a dangerous crossroads. If Americans are unable to speak their beliefs and opinions, liberty is meaningless. But today, we are not only seeing the suppression of opinions. We’re also seeing outright censorship of scientific fact.

My client Chelsea Mitchell recently placed an op-ed in USA Today to recount her experiences as a female track athlete lining up against male competitors. Chelsea is an elite female athlete, one of the most accomplished to cross finish lines in the state of Connecticut. But the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which oversees high-school athletic competition in the state, adopted a policy that allows males to identify as female and to compete against girls.

Males have large and insurmountable physical advantages over females. In fact, this is why Title IX of the Civil Rights Act exists: It creates fair competition for women and girls everywhere. Connecticut ignored federal law, and girls paid the price. Two males took 15 state championship titles, set 17 new individual meet records, and denied girls more than 85 opportunities to advance to the next level of competition. Chelsea personally lost four state-championship titles to two males as a result of this policy. Another one of our clients, Selina Soule, has stated that when she lines up against males, she knows the race is over before it even begins.

Chelsea is taking a stand to be a voice for her fellow female athletes and the young girls who will follow in her footsteps. She was able to be that voice in the pages of one of America’s largest newspapers — that is, until that newspaper decided to stealth-edit her story.

Chelsea has always been gracious and honest about her experience with the CIAC policy. A few days after USA Today published Chelsea’s op-ed in its original form, editors there arbitrarily decided to censor her piece and add an editor’s note, saying, “We regret that hurtful language was used.” What was the “hurtful language” that editors deleted from Chelsea’s opinion piece three days after publication? The word “male.”

There’s no mistaking what happened: USA Today editors, rather than stand up as honest brokers of public debate, gave in to the demands of the woke mob and replaced a word — even removing a whole sentence explaining that men have natural physical advantages — without notifying Chelsea.

This is wrong. It’s also out of touch with the majority of Americans. Just this week, Gallup released data saying that most Americans believe that athletic competition should be separated based on biological sex.

Even so, we’ve seen this attack before. When attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom were preparing to argue on behalf of Chelsea, Selina, and other female athletes in Connecticut before a federal judge, that judge demanded that we not refer to the male athletes as male and then refused to recuse himself from the case. The same judge dismissed our case, which we are now appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

We cannot have an honest debate when one side attempts to eliminate biological reality and the words that reflect it. Judges and news editors are telling girls like Chelsea to keep quiet and get in line with the words they decide are acceptable — words that confuse and conceal the true facts. That’s antithetical to our American tradition of free speech and civil discourse, and it’s not right. Choosing to embrace this tradition or to reject it is the crossroads America now faces.

I’m confident I’m on the right side. Women and girls deserve to have their voices heard. We cannot let words — and scientific fact — be suppressed in favor of an ideology. When we line up on the starting blocks to protect women’s sports, we won’t let the race be over before it begins simply because one side refuses to have an honest debate.


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