Following ADF lawsuit, California library changes policy, allows women’s sports discussion

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Institute for Free Speech recently reached a favorable settlement agreement with Yolo County Library officials after they violated the First Amendment rights of several women’s groups who met in a local library to discuss the harms of allowing men to participate in women’s sports.

As part of the settlement in Moms for Liberty-Yolo County v. Lopez, a case ADF attorneys filed last December, 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. The officials also agreed to allow Moms for Liberty – Yolo County, Independent Council on Women’s Sports, California Family Council, and other parental rights and women’s advocates to use the library to hold a discussion on fairness in women’s sports after officials shut down their event in August. The groups hosted a successful event on April 13 without incident. Finally, the officials agreed to pay $70,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

“Women have the right to speak about their concerns regarding men competing in their sports, and public officials have a constitutional duty to uphold that right regardless of whether they agree with the point of view presented,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Shutting down discussions about biological differences between men and women is, sadly, a growing trend among activists seeking to erase women and harm children. While they should never have shut down the event, Yolo County library officials are right to change course and enact policies that align with the First Amendment. We are hopeful other public officials — whether at libraries, schools, or anywhere else — see this as an opportunity to take a strong stance for the speech and assembly rights of all Americans.”

On Aug. 20, the Yolo County chapter of Moms for Liberty hosted an event called “Forum on Fair and Safe Sport for Girls” in the Blanchard Community Room at the Mary L. Stephens–Davis Branch Library in Yolo County. The event featured several speakers, including Sophia Lorey, the outreach director for California Family Council and a former collegiate athlete. A few minutes into Lorey’s speech about men participating in women’s sports, protestors began to interrupt her, shouting her down and accusing her of “misgendering.”

As Lorey tried to continue her speech, the library’s regional manager told her that if she continued to refer to male athletes as men, she would have to leave the room, and he would shut the event down. As a result, Lorey stopped her speech, and three minutes into the next speech, the regional manager told everyone to leave and turned off the projector to prevent the event from continuing. Organizers and attendees of the forum eventually left, unable to continue the planned event.

“This settlement is a clear victory for free speech and the First Amendment,” said Institute for Free Speech Vice President for Litigation Alan Gura. “Yolo County officials tried to silence speakers and shut down an event because the ideas expressed there didn’t comport with the officials’ preferred ideology. As a result of this lawsuit, Yolo County has now agreed to respect the right of all Americans to freely express their views in public spaces without fear of government censorship.”

In light of the settlement agreement, ADF attorneys filed a stipulated dismissal of the case.