California Leads Blue-State Attack Focused on ‘Absurd’ West Virginia Law That Bans Boys From Girls’ Sports

California has taken the lead with other blue states in a fight against a West Virginia law that bans biological males from girls’ sports, which has progressed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, Rob Bonta, California’s Democrat Attorney General, led an amicus brief in the case, B.P.J. v. West Virginia Board of Education, and referred to the West Virginia law as an “absurd legislative effort targeting transgender school children.”

“Preventing transgender elementary kids from living regular lives through legislative action is absurd and dangerous,” said Bonta in a statement. “No child should be denied the opportunity to have a normal childhood or play school sports because of their gender.”

“Whether it’s in Florida, West Virginia, or anywhere else, my office is committed to safeguarding the rights of all of our nation’s children,” said the attorney general. 

Lainey Armistead, a West Virginia soccer player, petitioned the case to the Supreme Court last month, which offers the nine justices their first chance to address the divisive subject of transgender athletes in women’s and girls’ sports.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Armistead lawyers asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on her case against the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU is trying to strike down West Virginia’s Save Women’s Sports Act. The law bans athletes who are male but who present and identify themselves as female from playing on girls’ school sports teams. 

In 2021, when the state law was passed, it was met immediately with a lawsuit from the ACLU, which represented a transgender middle school student, Becky Pepper-Jackson, who was blocked from joining the girls’ cross country team. 

Blue states argue W. VA law “categorically excludes transgender girls”

In their brief, the blue states say that the West Virginia law “categorically excludes transgender girls from participating on athletic teams consistent with their gender identity based solely on their sex assigned at birth.”

The states also argue that the law violates the Title IX law by denying Pepper-Jackson “and other transgender girls like her access to the same athletic opportunities that other boys and girls have” and that the “sole function” of the law is to “exclude and stigmatize transgender girls.”

Earlier this year, a district court ruled in favor of the West Virginia law. It said it was consistent and constitutional with Title IX, which protects against discrimination based on sex. 

The ACLU appealed the decision with the Fourth Circuit and asked for a pause while the lawsuit plays out, an injunction, and before the law takes effect.

Senior A.D.F. attorney, Christiana Keifer, said the Fourth Circuit granted the request, which allowed the male athlete to try out for spring girls’ sports “in a four-page order that has no factual basis and no legal analysis.”

Keifer said she remains optimistic that the Supreme Court will choose to hear her case. “What the Fourth Circuit did was not only wrong, as it relates to protecting fairness and equal opportunities for female athletes. But, it’s also wrong as a matter of law and how they went about it. And stopping the valid law without any factual or legal basis.” said Keifer.

Several attorneys general joined California in the court filing, including the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, and Minnesota.