CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Governor Jim Justice has an important decision to make in the next few days, as the transgender student-athlete bill sits on his desk.
He has until midnight Wednesday to sign it, at which point it will go into law with or without his signature.
“It concerns me that we may miss out on a really important sporting event or something like that, that could come to West Virginia that we miss out on and everything, you know, however I think the benefits of it way outweigh the bad,” said Justice during a press conference on the last day of the legislature.
Days later, during his COVID-19 press briefing, he told 13 News’s Mark Curtis’s he would not veto it.
“I am either going to let it become law or sign it, you know, I am not supportive of a veto,” he said.
The bill originated in the House Education Committee and it states that there are inherent biological differences between males and females.
“Biological males would displace females to a substantial extent if permitted to compete on teams designated for biological females,” it reads.
Now, with the clock ticking, gay rights advocates are urging the Governor to veto it.
“He claims to back all mountaineers — this isn’t backing all mountaineers, either he vetoes it or he vetoes it, that’s what I’m recommending he do,” said Natasha Kerensky, a candidate for the House of Delegates for Cabell County and a transgender woman.
Kerensky says this bill is going to further push kids back into the closet, drive businesses and families away from West Virginia, and could bring about sex discrimination lawsuits to school districts.
“Frankly, it’s a hit job on the gender community as a whole,” she said.
The ACLU of West Virginia says litigation is likely if the bill is signed into law.
“It’s going to hurt the state of West Virginia, it presents a bad image for us, we have already heard from the NCAA, how it’s going to hurt college athletics and the opportunity to hold tournaments, and it’s going to hurt the kids here,” said Eli Baumwell.
Especially, says Baumwell, in a state with one of the highest rates of transgender youth.
Despite the opposition, the Governor reiterated again Monday he now may sign it.