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Judge temporarily halts West Virginia transgender student athlete law

The ruling does not strike down the law, but temporarily halts its enforcement pending a ruling on its legality.

Updated: July 26, 2021 - 9:07pm

A federal judge temporarily halted the enforcement of a recently passed West Virginia law that only allows a student athlete to participate in sports programs that match his or her biological sex.

The judge’s ruling does not strike down the law, but rather temporarily halts its enforcement pending a ruling on its legality.

Supporters of the law argue biological sex affects a person’s physical strength and size, which would mean that biological males would have an unfair advantage over biological females if they are playing against each other in certain sports. Opponents of the law argue it discriminates against transgender student athletes by not recognizing their gender identities.

The West Virginia ACLU filed a lawsuit with the state on behalf of Becky Pepper-Jackson who is biologically male, but identifies as a girl. The student, who is about to enter middle school, intends to try out for a school’s girls cross country team.

“It is clearly in the public interest to uphold B.P.J’s constitutional right to not be treated any differently than her similarly situated peers because any harm to B.P.J.’s personal rights is a harm to the share of American rights that we all hold collectively,” the judge said in his ruling. “The right not to be discriminated against by the government belongs to all of us in equal measure. It is that communal and shared ownership of freedom that makes up the American ideal.”

Other states, which have passed similar laws, are also facing lawsuits.

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