West Virginia officials have filed a legal motion asking a court to reinstate a state law that blocked males from participating on female sports teams, saying that one boy who identified as a girl had displaced 100 female track and field athletes.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the state of West Virginia and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, asking the court to suspend an injunction that has partially blocked a law restricting athletic team participation on sports teams by sex.
“When you ignore biological reality and allow males to compete on girls’ sports teams, girls are harmed and denied athletic opportunities — even in middle school,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer. “This male athlete’s athletic success demonstrates that the injunction against West Virginia’s women’s sports law is undeniably causing multiple girls to suffer, and we urge the 4th Circuit to take immediate action and restore a fair playing field for female athletes.”
The motion comes after an injunction was placed against the 2021 law after Becky Pepper-Jackson, a 12-year-old male who identifies as female, and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state, saying that the law violated the 14th Amendment.
In April, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 not to review the case, saying that the state had not been able to prove any harm that could come from allowing the law to be blocked during litigation.
The new motion from West Virginia and ADF says there has been harm, saying that Pepper-Jackson has defeated 100 different girls, displacing them 280 times, and that two girls have missed competing in championship shot put and discus competitions.
“The results from the recent spring track-and-field season speak for themselves: [The male athlete] is displacing girls out of top spots in competition and off of coveted roster spots at championship and other meets. This undeniable, quantitative evidence constitutes a significant change that make it inequitable to leave the injunction in place because it will injure yet more girls in the fall season,” the motion says.
In a May op-ed, West Virginia middle schooler Taylor Allen asked that the law be allowed to go into effect.
“The case in my home state, like others around the country, is about whether boys should be able to play in girls’ sports if they identify as girls. The truth is, if West Virginia allowed that at my school, I’d lose my dream,” she wrote.