(The Center Square) – A controversy in Springfield involving transgender athletes changing in a women’s locker room has gotten national attention.
Last month, the Springfield YMCA responded to allegations circulating on social media that trans women were using a locker room with biological women, including minor girls.
Springfield YMCA Communications Director Lou Bart said there were no credible allegations of wrongdoing, and if there were, they’re required to take action as mandatory reporters.
“We don’t get to decide the fine lines of if something is inappropriate or not,” Bart told WMAY in June. “Anything close, we need to report it. We are legally liable to report it.”
The YMCA is safe and doesn’t discriminate, Bart said.
“Some people that are members of ours, that are transgender, that are known to us, that’s because they want to be known to us,” he said. “I’m sure there are others that we have no idea, and I’m not concerned about that. So, we can’t discriminate against anybody.”
Anyone who is uncomfortable changing in a locker room has access to family rooms with more private quarters, Bart said.
On Monday, the Illinois Freedom Caucus announced a news conference for later this week about the issue. They’ll join the family of a 16-year-old swimmer who they say was dismissed from the team in May for objecting to a biological male in the women’s locker room.
The swimmer “posted signs in protest in the women’s locker room reading, ‘Women’s Rights,’ ‘Biological Women Only,’ and ‘Safe Sport.’ Because of her signs, she was kicked off the swim team,” the group said.
They called it an “outrageous decision of the Springfield YMCA to put young girls in danger by allowing biological men access to their changing rooms.”
The issue was elevated on Twitter on Sunday by Riley Gaines, a collegiate swimmer who recently testified to Congress about protecting women’s sports from biological men.
Gaines posted, “16-yo girl banned from YMCA and kicked off her swim team for opposing a naked male in their locker room” and that the coach and YMCA administration “and everyone else who told these girls their innate feeling of discomfort when undressing next to someone with male parts is really just ‘transphobia’ need to be held accountable.”
Bart responded Monday that no swimmer was removed or prevented from practicing and the swimmer in question left the team on her own.
“There have been a variety of false statements around the same issue circulated by the same individuals since this past May,” Bart told The Center Square. “In this version of the story, the statement that the swimmer was removed from the Y and prevented from participating on the swim team is false. She left the swim team and the YMCA on her own.”
The Freedom Caucus’ Thursday news event is at 1 p.m. at Rotary Park in Springfield.