US Supreme Court Rejects West Virginia’s Effort to Deny a 12-Year-Old Trans Girl Her Right to Play

April 6, 2023 2:52 pm

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Supreme Court has rejected an effort by West Virginia’s Attorney General to block a 12-year-old transgender girl from continuing to participate in school sports with her peers along a 7-2 vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, Lambda Legal, and Cooley LLP issued the following joint statement:

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court today acknowledged that there was no emergency and that Becky should be allowed to continue to participate with her teammates on her middle school track team, which she has been doing without incident for three going on four seasons, as our challenge to West Virginia’s onerous trans youth sports ban makes its way through the courts. This was a baseless and cruel effort to keep Becky from where she belongs–playing alongside her peers as a teammate and as a friend.”

In April 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed HB 3293 into law, barring transgender student athletes from participating on the school athletic teams most consistent with their gender identity. In May 2021, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of Becky Pepper Jackson, a 12-year-old girl who would be kicked off her middle school’s track and field team if the law were enforced.

In February 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit blocked the state’s effort to kick Becky off the team as the legal advocates appealed a lower court ruling upholding the 2021 ban.

In a March 9, 2023 filing, Attorney General Patrick Morrissey asked the Supreme Court for an emergency motion allowing the state to enforce HB 3293 and kick Becky off her middle school’s track and field team. In a March 20 response to the Court, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Lambda Legal urged the United States Supreme Court to reject the effort

West Virginia is one of 19 states that have banned transgender student athletes in just the last three years as part of an escalating wave of state-level restrictions on the rights of transgender people. Similar federal lawsuits are pending in Idaho and Tennessee.

The Supreme Court's filing can be found here.

B.P.J. v. West Virginia Board of Education is a part of the ACLU’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Supreme Court Docket.

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