May 22nd, 2024

Federal appeals court overturns West Virginia transgender sports ban

By The Associated Press on April 16, 2024.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court has overturned a West Virginia transgender sports ban, finding that the law violates Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools.

The ruling Tuesday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocks a West Virginia law banning transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams.

The court said the law cannot lawfully be applied to a 13-year-old girl who has been taking puberty-blocking medication and publicly identified as a girl since she was in the third grade.

Sports participation is one of the main fronts in legislative and legal battles in recent years over the role of transgender people in U.S. public life. Most Republican-controlled states have passed restrictions on participation, as well as bans on gender-affirming health care for minors. Several have also restricted which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender people can use, particularly in schools.

West Virginia is one of at least 24 states with a law on the books barring transgender women and girls from competing in certain women’s or girls sports competitions.

The bans are in effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

In addition to West Virginia, judges have temporarily put enforcement of the bans on hold in Arizona, Idaho and Utah.

A ban in Ohio is to take effect later this month.

The Biden administration originally planned to release a new federal Title IX rule – the law forbids discrimination based on sex in education – addressing both campus sexual assault and transgender athletes. Earlier this year, the department decided to split them into separate rules, and the athletics rule now remains in limbo.

Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision blocking a ban on transgender athletes competing in girls and women’s sports in Idaho.

The 2nd Circuit ruled differently last year in a challenge to Connecticut’s policy of letting transgender girls compete in girls sports, reviving the case and sending it back to a lower court without ruling on its merits.

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