On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that a federal court had issued an injunction against West Virginia law prohibiting trans students from participating in school sports.
The move comes months after the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Becky Pepper-Jackson, 11, who wanted to try for her college cross country team but was barred from doing so.
“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 released by the ACLU. “It hurts that the state of West Virginia is trying to stop me from chasing my dreams. I just wanna play. “
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice enacted HB 3293 in late April amid a wave of similar laws passed across the country.
“Becky – like all college students – should be given the opportunity to try for a sports team and play with her peers,” said Josh Block, senior advocate for the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We hope this will also send a message to other states to stop demonizing trans children for political gain and to allow these children to live their lives in peace.”
While the injunction does not override state law, it is a signal that the judge believes the plaintiff has a good chance of winning their case. Presiding Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia wrote in his order that the plaintiff “has a likelihood of success in demonstrating that this law is unconstitutional.”
“At this point, I have been provided with little evidence that this law solves a problem, let alone a significant problem,” Goodwin wrote. “When the government distinguishes between different groups of people, there must be compelling reasons for those distinctions. Having determined that the Plaintiff has a likelihood of success in demonstrating that this law is unconstitutional insofar as it applies to it and violates Title IX, the Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction is GRANTED.
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