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Riley Gaines talks to West Virginia female middle-schoolers who declined to compete against biological male

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Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer, has been outspoken about transgender athletes’ participation in women’s sports.

Gaines, an OutKick contributor who hosts the “Gaines for Girls” podcast and is the director of the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, spoke with a group of middle school girls who recently pulled out of a track and field competition due to their refusal to compete against an athlete who was a biological male.

Gaines praised the four student-athletes, saying they “set the precedent and the standard for many girls to come.”

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Riley Gaines hosts her podcast

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines hosts the “Gaines for Girls” podcast. (OutKick)

The Bridgeport, West Virginia, middle-schoolers stepped into the circle for the shot put and discus competitions and then stepped out in protest of the transgender athlete who was competing against them, according to OutKick.

RILEY GAINES REFLECTS ON WHEN SHE BECAME ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN’S SPORTS: ‘WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE WE CLAPPING FOR?’

While Gaines addressed the backlash the young athletes were subjected to following their actions, she also discussed the outpouring of support they received. 

“So have you guys felt pretty overwhelmed by the support that you’ve received since taking a stand?” Gaines asked.

“I think it was way more than we expected,” one of the student-athletes responded. “I think we kind of gave a voice for those people that were scared and they’re not scared anymore, so I’m excited about that.”

Riley Gaines at a presser

Riley Gaines speaks at a news conference with West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey. (Sceenshot)

Gaines previously spoke out in support of the four middle-schoolers.

“I could not be more proud of these girls,” Gaines told America Reports co-anchor Sandra Smith on Fox News Channel in April.

“Again, 13, 14 years old, they’re in middle school, yet they’re the ones who are forced to be the adults in the room to advocate for their own rights to quality opportunity, safety and privacy, which were once ensured by Title IX, but now, of course, are under threat and which were once ensured by the law here in West Virginia. But now, with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, it’s all under threat, which sets a terrible precedent.”

West Virginia’s “Save Women’s Sports Act” was signed into law in 2021. It required student-athletes to compete and play against those of their biological gender. The law was challenged on the basis that it violated the 14th Amendment and protections under Title IX.

Riley Gaines in November 2023

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines speaks at an event. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal/USA Today Network)

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin ruled in January 2023 that the law did not violate Title IX protections. However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reinstate a preliminary injunction.

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West Virginia was one of at least 24 states that had laws barring transgender women and girls from competing against the gender they identify as.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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