A federal court in January upheld West Virginia’s law to protect women’s sports, passed in 2021, which bars boys from participating on sports teams designated for girls in middle and high schools.
An 11-year-old boy, banned from joining girls’ track and cross-country teams, sued the West Virginia State Board of Education and others for discrimination. The boy claimed that the state violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, which bars discrimination based on sex in education. The state intervened in the lawsuit.
The issue was whether the state legislature’s definition of “women” and “girl” in this context is constitutionally permissible. The court contended that it was constitutional and “substantially related to the important government interest of providing equal athletic opportunities for females.”
The boy and the state appealed to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and asked for an injunction. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents Lainey Armistead, a woman who intervened in the case, announced that the appeals court granted the injunction by a 2-1 vote.
UPDATE: Today, 21 states, 67 female athletes and their parents, and others such as Martina Navratilova united to file amicus briefs with #SCOTUS in support of WV's law protecting women's sports. This is the Court's first chance to ensure equal opportunities for female athletes.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) March 13, 2023
ADF and the West Virginia attorney general’s office have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. They said the court granted the injunction “without providing any legal or factual basis for its decision.” From ADF:
The motion attorneys with ADF and the West Virginia attorney general’s office filed explains that West Virginia enacted the Women’s Sports Act “‘to promote equal athletic opportunities for the female sex’ due to ‘inherent differences’ of biology that make it unfair or even dangerous for males to compete against female athletes.
You can listen to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s press conference here.
Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom
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