NCAA facilitator resigns over organization's updated transgender participation policy

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Dorian Rhea Debussy, Ph.D, one of the 54 facilitators in the NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam program, resigned after a new policy was implemented around transgender participation.

Last year, Debussy led 38 OneTeam members in publishing a letter demanding the NCAA to take further action to prevent anti-transgender legislation from being introduced and passed in the 2021 state legislative session.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers after competing in a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers gets ready to compete in a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

All of this has come to light during Penn swimmer Lia Thomas’ success in the pool. Thomas had victories in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle races against Harvard on Saturday. The wins came days after the NCAA updated its policy for transgender participation and how it will be determined on a sport-by-sport basis.

The NCAA announced that the policy would begin with the winter championships. The NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships are set for March 16-19 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

“Based on the new NCAA policy put out on Wednesday, there is nothing that would preclude Lia from racing in March at the NCAA Championships. There is a framework, some guidance, but nothing that anybody would recognize as a line-in-the-sand threshold,” Braden Keith, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SwimSwam, told Fox News last Thursday.

“The internal pressure within the sport in the last 24 hours has ramped up on USA Swimming and FINA to make a decision, to come up with a rule or a threshold, and it’s left them in kind of a tough spot — they’ve had this responsibility, the duty to decide what the NCAA rule is, thrust upon them, when I’m sure they were hoping to be able to kick the can down the road a little while longer.”

Under the new policy announced by the NCAA, it appears Thomas will still be eligible to race this season for Penn. The Quakers have two more meets before the end of the regular season.

The Ivy League Championships are slated for Feb. 16-19, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships are Feb. 24-27.

Penn and the Ivy League both offered support for Thomas and vowed to work with the NCAA regarding her participation for the championships.

“Penn Athletics is aware of the NCAA’s new transgender participation policy. In support of our student-athlete, Lia Thomas, we will work with the NCAA regarding her participation under the newly adopted standards for the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship,” Penn Athletics said in a statement obtained by Fox News.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers swims in the 500 yard freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 8, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

The Ivy League added: “The Ivy League is aware of yesterday’s NCAA Board of Governors’ decision to update its transgender policies beginning with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships. The league will work with the University of Pennsylvania and its other member institutions to determine the mid-year eligibility impact to any of its transgender student-athletes who might be affected by this decision and will provide an update when appropriate.”

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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