California leads blue-state attack on 'absurd' West Virginia law banning boys from girls' sports
California AG Bonta called West Virginia's Save Women's Sports law 'absurd and dangerous'
California is leading other blue states in their fight against a West Virginia law banning biological males from girls' sports that has made its way up to the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, California’s Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta led an amicus brief in the case, B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education, and called the West Virginia law an "absurd legislative effort targeting transgender school children."
"Preventing transgender elementary kids from living regular lives through legislative action is absurd and dangerous," Bonta said 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," he said.
West Virginia soccer player Lainey Armistead last month petitioned the case to the Supreme Court, which gives the nine justices their first opportunity to address the controversial subject of transgender athletes in girls' and women's sports.
Armistead and her lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on her case against the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is trying to strike down West Virginia's Save Women's Sports Act. The law bans male student athletes who identify and present themselves as female from playing on girls' school sports teams.
When the state law was passed in 2021, it was immediately met with a lawsuit from the ACLU, which represented Becky Pepper-Jackson, a transgender middle school student who was barred from joining the girls' cross-country team.
The blue states argue in their brief 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."
They also argue that the law violates Title IX by denying Pepper-Jackson "and 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."
A district court early this year ruled in favor of the West Virginia law, saying that it was both constitutional and consistent with Title IX, which protects against sex-based discrimination.
The ACLU appealed that decision to the Fourth Circuit, and also asked for an injunction, meaning a pause before the law takes effect while the lawsuit plays out.
Christiana Keifer, senior attorney for ADF, said the Fourth Circuit granted that request, allowing the male athlete to try out for girls' spring sports "in a four-page order that has no factual basis and no legal analysis."
Keifer is optimistic the Supreme Court will opt 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," she said.
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California was joined in the court filing by attorneys general of New York, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.