West Virginia to ask US Supreme Court to allow ban on male athletes in girls sports

by Jacob Fuller

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said on Thursday the state will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a law banning male athletes who identify as transgender from participating on female sports teams after a lower court blocked the measure.

Morrisey, a Republican, told reporters that the state will file a request asking the justices to lift an injunction against the law issued on Feb. 22 by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals while litigation continues over the legality of the measure. A legal challenge was brought by the parents of a 12-year-old boy who identifies as a transgender girl, Becky Pepper-Jackson.

“This is a matter of basic common sense and basic fairness. We believe we are absolutely correct on the merits,” Morrisey said.

West Virginia’s law, passed in 2021, bars male public high school or post-secondary students from female athletic teams “based solely on the individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

It is one of numerous Republican-backed measures being pursued at the state level that seek to protect women’s sports and private spaces from biological males.

Jackson, who attends a middle school in the West Virginia city of Bridgeport, sued along with his mother Heather after he was not allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams.

The plaintiffs said the law discriminates based on sex and transgender status in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law and the civil rights law Title IX, which bars sex-based discrimination in education.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin initially blocked the law, allowing Becky to participate on the teams. But in January he reversed course, finding that the state measure was lawful. The 4th Circuit subsequently put the law on hold while the case proceeds.

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters. Edits by Jacob Fuller, FISM News.