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West Virginia governor signs law that only girls may play girls’ sports

Girl soccer Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

West Virginia’s governor on Wednesday signed a bill into law clarifying that only females may play girls’ sports in the state.

The law, House Bill 3293, prohibits biological males from playing girls’ sports in middle and high schools, as well as at colleges. It allows for female athletes to sue in the case of a violation.

The group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) applauded Gov. Jim Justice (R) for signing the bill into law on Wednesday.

“When the law ignores biological differences, women and girls bear the brunt of the harm,” Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel with ADF, stated.

ADF is also representing four female athletes in their case against Connecticut’s transgender sports policy. The state, beginning in 2017, allowed students to participate in sports based on their gender identity and not biological sex. A federal judge dismissed the Title IX case this week, which ADF is appealing.

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“We have seen increasing examples across the country of males dominating girls’ athletic competitions when competing as females, capturing championships and shattering long-standing female track records,” Holcomb said.

“Comparably fit and trained males will always have physical advantages over females—that’s the reason we have girls’ sports. When we ignore biological reality, female athletes lose medals, podium spots, public recognition, and opportunities to compete,” she said.

Other states have enacted laws similar to West Virginia’s, or are considering such laws, including Idaho, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Other state governors have vetoed similar bills passed by state legislatures, such as in Kansas and South Dakota. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) of South Dakota later issued an executive order saying that only biological women should play women’s sports, after she was criticized by ADF for her veto of a transgender sports bill.

On Wednesday, the Florida legislature passed a bill limiting participation in single-sex sports to people of that biological sex.

On April 12, the board of governors for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) issued a statement in support of athletes identifying as transgender.

The NCAA board did not say it would withdraw championship events from states with laws such as West Virginia’s, but added it would “closely monitor these situations” of the location of championship events. The NCAA said it requires championship sites to be “safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”

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“Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee,” the board stated.

The pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign is calling on the NCAA to remove championship events from states with laws restricting single-sex sports to people of that biological sex.

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