West Virginia fights to keep transgender sports ban, other states face similar court battles

Overall, 24 states have a ban on transgender youth participating in sports.

Published: April 28, 2024 11:32pm

West Virginia says it will appeal to the Supreme Court to keep its ban or transgender youth athletes in sports, amid legal battles in 24 states across the country facing similar challenges to such bans. 

Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced last week the state will ask the country's highest court take up its "Save Women's Sports Act," after it was blocked by an appeals court earlier this month.

"We will be filing over the next month and we want to make sure we time our filing to maximize the chance the case is going to be heard and most importantly that we will win," Morrisey said during a press conference.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the West Virginia law that attempts to ban boys who identify as girls from playing on girls' sports teams is discriminatory. 

According to the court, the law discriminated against 13-year-old Becky Pepper Jackson, who has been taking puberty-blocking medication, typically for those born as a male, and who has publicly identified as a girl since elementary school.

If the law is enforced, Pepper Jackson would be kicked off the middle school track team due to identifying as transgender. 

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pepper Jackson, after GOP Gov. Jim Justice signed the transgender ban into law in 2021.

Overall, 24 states have a ban on transgender youth participating in sports, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

Some of the states have faced legal pushback from the bans and others have had legislation vetoed by governors. 

Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would have put restrictions on transgender participation on sports teams, but the Senate voted in January to override his veto.

The state Senate in Nebraska earlier this month failed to advance a bill that would have required transgender students in public schools use bathrooms and participate on sports teams in alignment with their sex instead of gender identity.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in Nassau County, New York, after an executive order was issued banning transgender girls and women from participating in girls and women’s sports played at county-run facilities. 

The ACLU argued that the order violated New York’s Human Rights Law and Civil Rights Law, which "prohibits discrimination based on gender identity following passage of New York’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act."

In 2022, Indiana was sued by the civil rights group over its transgender ban.

“When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students – including trans people – on the basis of sex and it denies the promise of the Constitution of equal protection under the law,” Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana said at the time.  

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