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Illinois YMCA Swimming Coach Accuses Teen Girl of “Hate Speech” for Raising Locker Room Concerns

A swimming coach at a YMCA in Illinois has faced backlash after accusing a sixteen-year-old girl of “hate speech” when she voiced concerns about a transgender woman using the girls’ locker room. The incident has ignited a heated debate about transgender rights, women’s safety, and freedom of expression. 

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Locker Room Controversy: Teen Girl Expresses Concerns

In April, Abbigail Wheeler, a member of the Springfield, Illinois YMCA SPY swim team, raised concerns about a transgender woman being allowed to use the girls’ locker room. Despite approaching head swim coach Alex Totura, the girl was told that there was nothing that could be done to address the issue. Subsequently, parents organized to bring their concerns to the attention of YMCA’s Chief Executive Officer Angie Sowle.

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Policy Change Requests and Locker Room Signs

Parents requested a policy change, advocating for transgender individuals to use single-person bathrooms for changing purposes. Additionally, some girls on the team allegedly hung signs in the women-only locker room expressing messages such as “Women’s Rights,” “Biological Women Only,” and “Safe Sport.” The signs aimed to draw attention to the importance of women’s safety and the need to protect spaces designated for biological women.

Retaliation and Accusations of “Hate Speech”

The controversy intensified when Abbigail Wheeler’s father claimed that coach Alex Totura accused his daughter of engaging in “hate speech” and subsequently removed her from the swim team. According to Wheeler’s father, Totura informed her that she was not allowed to participate in the team and asked her to leave the pool area. The YMCA, however, denies these claims and states that the girl left the team voluntarily.

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Broader Context and Similar Incidents

This incident is not isolated, as similar controversies have emerged in other YMCA facilities and locations across the United States. Instances of individuals, including minors, expressing concerns about transgender individuals using locker rooms have been met with accusations of bigotry and intolerance. This ongoing debate raises questions about the balance between transgender rights and the privacy and safety concerns of cisgender individuals.

Support and Advocacy Efforts

Former NCAA college swimming champion and women’s sports advocate Riley Gaines has organized a rally in support of Abbigail Wheeler. The Illinois Freedom Caucus expressed pride in Wheeler’s courage to share her experience publicly and highlighted the broader issue of protecting young girls from potential harm. The rally aims to shed light on the need for clarity and policies that address the concerns of all parties involved.


The case of the Illinois YMCA swimming coach accusing a teen girl of “hate speech” over her concerns about transgender individuals in the girls’ locker room has ignited a contentious debate. Balancing transgender rights, women’s safety, and freedom of expression requires thoughtful consideration and open dialogue. As society navigates these complex discussions, finding common ground and ensuring inclusivity for all individuals involved remains a crucial goal.

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Malik is a skilled writer with a passion for news and current events. With their keen eye for detail, they provide insightful perspectives on the latest happenings. Stay informed and engaged!