West Virginia’s transgender sports ban halted during appeal End-shutdown

A federal appeals panel has ruled that West Virginia transgender athletes can compete in women’s school sports while an appeal is heard over a state law banning their participation.

byAssociated Press JOHN RABY

February 22, 2023, 03:47 PM

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Transgender athletes in West Virginia can compete in women’s school sports while an appeal is heard over a state law that prohibits their participation, a divided federal appeals panel ruled Wednesday.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 2-1 to reinstate a preliminary injunction requested by the American Civil Liberties Union. The 2021 law signed by the Republican governor. Jim Justice applies to middle and high schools, as well as colleges.

Last month, a federal judge ruled on the preliminary injunction, which he had issued in July 2021. The judge also ruled that the law did not violate Title IX, the landmark 1972 gender equity legislation.

The ACLU and its West Virginia chapter filed a lawsuit on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl who hoped to compete in high school cross country in Harrison County. The lawsuit named the state and county boards of education and their superintendents as defendants.

More than a dozen states have passed laws banning or restricting transgender athletes from participating in sports based on the premise that they have an unfair competitive advantage, despite a lack of widespread cases.

The West Virginia High School Activities Commission, which oversees school sports, said when the lawsuit was filed that it had not received any complaints about transgender athletes on girls’ teams.

A 2017 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law used statewide population-based surveys to estimate that West Virginia had the highest percentage (1.04%) of residents ages 13 to 17 who identified as transgender. That equated to about 1,150 teenagers in all.

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