Sophia Lorey
Sophia Lorey is a former collegiate soccer player and currently the outreach director at California Family Council.
We all win by encouraging open dialogue and vigorous debate on issues of critical importance

It took less than two minutes and the mention of the word "men," and I was shouted down. I had barely introduced myself and a heckler accused me of committing the alleged crime of "misgendering" by using the phrase, "men in women's sports."

In August 2023, I was invited to the Yolo County library in California to speak at an event called "Forum on Fair and Safe Sport for Girls." As a former college soccer player, I'm passionate about protecting women's sports from being invaded by male athletes and welcomed the opportunity to join Moms for Liberty and other women advocates in openly discussing a relevant cultural issue.

But all I was able to share was my dream of being a college soccer player since I was 10 years old and how girls today could miss out on achieving their athletic dreams because of being forced to compete against boys.

Library officials shut down the forum after only a few minutes, claiming that referring to male athletes in women's sports as "men" violated library policy.

Should men compete in women's sports? That's a central issue in our culture. One that demands honest dialogue and robust debate. Unfortunately, just saying "men competing in women's sports" is enough to get you censored. Or as I found out, it's also enough to get you thrown out of a public library.

It's common now for radical activists to shut down all debate on issues with which they disagree or dislike. To silence truth.

This isn't American, and it certainly isn't constitutional.

So with the legal help of Alliance Defending Freedom and the Institute for Free Speech, I joined other women's advocates in filing a lawsuit against library officials for violating our First Amendment rights.

Women have the right to speak about our concerns of being erased. Women have the right to express our discomfort in being put in unsafe situations because men are allowed to access our bathrooms, locker rooms and sports. Women have the right to stand for biological reality and truth.

Comment: How ironic, hypocritical and egregious is it then that - in the age of feminism and diversity - women who speak out on the issues above are being shut down?!

And thankfully, we're on the right side of the law. This week, we secured a critical legal victory and reached a favorable settlement of our case with library officials.

As part of the settlement arrangement, library officials agreed to change their policy to mandate that staff "shall not interfere with presentations or other speech by individuals or groups that have reserved meeting rooms based on the content of such speech" and to instruct staff to "curtail any disruptive behavior" during events.

Importantly, library officials also agreed to allow us ladies to hold a do-over event, after turning out the lights on us the first time. We successfully held an open discussion on fairness in women's sports on April 13 at the library.

I'm hopeful other public officials - whether at libraries, schools, or legislatures - see this as an opportunity to take a strong stance for the speech and assembly rights of all Americans. You don't have to agree with me on whether men should be allowed to join women's sports; but we should all agree in my right to express my view, the same as every other American.

My voice was a little shaky that day in August when I stood up in the library and faced a room full of people wearing shirts and holding signs blazoned with views that opposed mine. But I knew I had a right to be there and speak - a right to express my views and listen to theirs.