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Judge suspends West Virginia law targeting trans athletes

They’ve asked the judge for a preliminary injunction because practice for the cross-country teams begins this month. The law came into effect on July 1, and the principal of Bridgeport Middle School, where Pepper-Jackson will be attending, told the girl’s mother in May that the law would prohibit her from participating in the girls’ team at autumn.

“I’m excited to know that I will be able to try out for the women’s cross country team and keep up with my family’s running shoes,” Pepper-Jackson said in a statement. “It hurts that the state of West Virginia is trying to stop me from chasing my dreams. I just wanna play. “

Key context: The West Virginia law is the first set of such restrictions on transgender athletes to be suspended this year as court challenges are pending. Idaho, the first state in the country to have such a law, has also seen its status blocked in the courts over the past year.

New laws prohibiting transgender girls and women from playing on teams that match their gender identities came into effect this month in several states. Mississippi, Montana, Florida, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama have all signed restrictions for trans athletes this year.

Supporters of the laws pointed to an executive order from President Joe Biden in January that sought to promote the inclusion of transgender people, saying the order made further restrictions necessary. The White House argued that a Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ rights in the workplace extends to Title IX as well. The Ministry of Education has since released a new interpretation of the law that includes the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

More details: Goodwin said he had “received little evidence that this law solves a problem, let alone a significant problem.” The judge said he determined that Pepper-Jackson “has a chance of successfully showing that this law is unconstitutional as it applies to her and violates Title IX.”

Goodwin, in his order, cited excerpts from Hecox vs. Little – the case challenging Idaho law – and a related landmark case, Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, which codified the right of transgender students to use toilets that match their gender identity.

“This status as applied to the BPJ is not substantially related to providing equal sporting opportunities for girls,” he said, adding that he would pursue the case “as if the ‘goal proposed by the state was genuine “.

He also mentioned that Pepper-Jackson, who has been prescribed puberty blocking drugs, has shown that she will not have “an inherent physical advantage over the girls she competes against.” And he added that she would not deny other girls sporting opportunities because “transgender people make up only a small percentage of the population.”

“We have said throughout this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we are encouraged by the court’s decision today,” Loree Stark, chief legal officer for ACLU West Virginia, said in a statement. . “We hope trans children across West Virginia who have felt attacked and harmed by the passage of this legislation feel empowered by today’s news.”

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