ACLU sues West Virginia over transgender athlete law

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A lawsuit has been filed to challenge West Virginia’s new law that bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU West Virginia, Lambda Legal and Cooley LLP said the suit was filed on behalf of an 11-year-old, B.P.J., who is transgender. They said the child was looking forward to trying out for the girls’ cross-country team when she starts middle school until West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the bill into law.

“I just want to run, I come from a family of runners,” said the student, who also cheered for the local youth football team in elementary school. “I know how hurtful a law like this is to all kids like me who just want to play sports with their classmates, and I’m doing this for them. Trans kids deserve better.”

During the 2021 West Virginia legislative session, House Bill 3293 narrowly passed the State Senate, which had added the college component, before it was overwhelmingly approved in the House of Delegates. Justice signed the bill into law April 28, 2021, just before the deadline where he would be required to sign it, veto it or let it pass into law without his signature.

According to the new law, a birth certificate would be required upon admission to public school to confirm a student’s sex at birth.

At the time the bill was signed, Justice became the seventh governor in the US to allow such a bill to go into action. Similar laws are already in effect in Idaho, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Alabama and Arkansas. When the governor signed the bill, the ACLU tweeted “We will see West Virginia in court.”

“We told lawmakers around the country that we would see them in court if they passed Legislation
attacking trans youth, and today we are making good on that promise,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU. “Transgender youth in West Virginia who want to be on a team and challenge themselves should have the opportunity to do so, just like any other student.”

The case was filed by Lambda Legal, the ACLU Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ &
HIV Project, ACLU-WV, and law firm Cooley LLP. in the United States District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.

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