The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU West Virginia
chapter, and Lambda Legal joined several other organizations on Wednesday in filing a lawsuit
to overturn House
Bill 3293, a West Virginia law that prohibits transgender
girls and women from participating in girls' and women's school sports
According to an ACLU press release, the organizations filed the lawsuit on behalf of Betty Pepper-Jackson, an 11-year-old girl who is barred from joining her middle school's cross-country team due to her gender identity
“I just want to run; I come from a running family,” Pepper-Jackson is quoted as saying in the press release, “and I know how hurtful a law like this is to all kids like me who just want to play sports with their classmates, and I’m doing this for them. Trans kids deserve better.”
According to the law, athletes' participation should be determined by their "biological sex at birth."
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice
(R) signed the anti-trans
legislation into law in late April
, saying he was “proudly” doing so despite the fact that it could cost his state money
. “It concerns me that we may miss out on a really important sporting event or something like that that could come to West Virginia,” Justice said.
HB 3293 prohibits trans girls and women from participating on women's sports teams at "any public secondary school or state institution of higher education
." Justice stated in April that he supports enforcing the law on colleges and universities, though he acknowledged that doing so could result in penalties. "The only problem is the NCAA could penalize us in West Virginia," he said.
After North Carolina
enacted a law policing transgender people
's use of public restrooms in 2016, the NBA
relocated its All-Star Game from Charlotte, and the NCAA temporarily barred the state of North Carolina from hosting neutral-site championship games that same year.
Despite his unwavering support for West Virginia's latest anti-trans legislation, Justice was unable to cite a single instance of a trans child gaining an unfair advantage in sports because of their gender identity last month.
During an interview
's Stephanie Ruhle, the governor
was pressed to provide one such example, but he failed.
“No, I can’t really tell you one,” he admitted, “but I can tell you this, Stephanie: I’m a coach, and I coach a girl’s basketball
team, and we all know what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls.”