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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (ChurchMilitant.com) - West Virginia's Supreme Court is upholding a law that protects women's sports.
On Thursday, the state's U.S. District Court for the Southern District ruled that the "Save Women's Sports Act" was constitutional. It bans gender-confused students from competing in female secondary and higher education sports.
Christiana Kiefer, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, praised the outcome: "Today's decision is a win for reality. The truth matters, and it is crucial that our laws and policies recognize that the physical differences between men and women matter, especially in a context like sports."
In 2021, West Virginia's Legislature passed a sports bill that defined the meaning of "girl" and "woman" as someone who is "biologically female." The law was soon challenged, however, after a male middle schooler student, who identified as female, was prohibited from trying out for the girls' track and cross-country teams.
A lawsuit filed by the family of the 11-year-old boy, who goes by the name Becky Pepper-Jackson, questioned the bill's female definitions. It claimed that state lawmakers passed the sports bill "as part of a concerted, nationwide effort to target transgender youth for unequal treatment." Pepper-Jackson also contended that he should be able to play because he started hormone treatment prior to entering puberty.
Yesterday's court ruling didn't aim to define the word "female," but it did state that "while some females may be able to outperform some males, it is generally accepted that, on average, males outperform females athletically because of inherent physical differences between the sexes."
It further explained, "The state is permitted to legislate sports rules on this basis because sex, and the physical characteristics that flow from it, are substantially related to athletic performance and fairness in sports."
The court found no "legislative animus" in the bill and noted that while Pepper-Jackson may have taken puberty blockers, that wouldn't necessarily be the case for other gender-confused athletes wanting to compete against females.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of West Virginia. He asserted that the Save Women's Sports Act protects female athletes' safety and is consistent with Title IX and the Constitution.
"Opportunities for girls and women on the field are precious and we must safeguard that future. Protecting these opportunities is important, because when biological males compete in a women's event, women and girls lose their opportunity to shine," Morrisey said following the court's decision.
The CEO of the ADF, Kristen Waggoner, applauded the court yesterday: "Today, a West Virginia court affirmed the state's law protecting fairness & safety for female athletes." The message appeared alongside the hashtag "BiologyMatters."
Kiefer noted, "Female athletes deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls' sports destroys fair competition, safety on the field, and women's athletic opportunities."
"Female athletes across the country are losing medals, podium spots, public recognition, and opportunities to compete because of males competing in women's sports," Kiefer added. "The court was right to affirm that West Virginia's law is not only constitutional, but consistent with Title IX."