Aggrieved swimmers learn the hard way to speak out against transgender tyranny

According to Aristotle, courage is the "first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others."  Courage is the one virtue that ensures all other virtues, which explains why "Do Not Be Afraid" defined the papacy of John Paul the Great.  This wisdom is being borne out today by everyday people — Canadian truckers, parents at school board meetings, inquisitive celebrities, and Turkish basketball players.

And female swimmers at the University of Pennsylvania.  Last week, sixteen team members finally expressed their concerns to the NCAA and the Ivy League over having a male team member, whose biological advantages as a male are making competition unfair toward females.  The most chilling part of the letter was the statement (emphasis added):

We have been told that if we spoke out against her [sic — the male swimmer calls himself a female] inclusion into women's competitions, that we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer.

For a while, those threats worked.  Many had already expressed their frustration anonymously.  But anonymity is not courage.  Courage requires accepting the consequences. 

But what silent dissenters don't realize is that they are already going to suffer these consequences, and they will also have the guilt of not speaking up.  The bullies are winning when you are silenced and afraid.  And they already know who you are.

I witnessed the same situation at my kids' high school.  As one of the organizers of the parent group fighting the influx of Critical Race Theory and "diversity, equity, and inclusion" ideologies, I was aware of every parent complaint.  Many stemmed from the girls' field hockey team, whose coach forced the girls to take implicit bias tests, purchase Black Lives Matter t-shirts, support LGBT causes, and promote it on the team's social media.  Many girls and parents were uncomfortable doing this but went along because they were afraid of being cut from the team, not given playing time, or not being supported in college recruiting efforts.  And no one wanted to complain directly to the coach or the athletic director.

So our group arranged to have a school official complain to the athletic director, who promptly censured the coach.  And surprise: All those girls (whose parents didn't want to rock the boat) "somehow" got cut from the team.  The sad part of this story is that those parents blamed us for their daughters' demise and believed that if we had just kept our mouths shut, the girls would still miserably be on the team.

Here is the lesson: the girls never identified themselves, yet somehow, the coach already knew who was on board with her agenda and who wasn't.  Had they voiced their complaints and gone on the record, they would have been protected from retaliation.  And they would have stood for something.  But now they aren't on a team, and they sold their souls, or at least their voices, in the process. 

This story is all too common.  And now it is playing out on a public stage. 

We need to show these young people how to challenge these threats.  They sound scary, but in the long run, in the world of important values, they are empty threats.  First of all, any future employer who won't hire you because of your beliefs is not someone you want to work for anyway.  This is a great way to weed out miserable employers.  No job is worth your soul, especially when you have your whole career path still ahead of you.

And make them cut you.  Even if you are not the top athlete, they will have a hard time finding someone better...and word gets out, and no future athletes will want to go there.  And you now have a retaliation claim.  In the meantime, look at good schools that are building a team.  There are thousands of athletic opportunities that don't make you sell your soul. 

The ultimate lesson from sports (and life) is already in play — do not be afraid.

Image: Eric Sonstroem via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).

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