CHARLESTON — Attorneys for an 11-year-old Harrison County transgender girl doubled down on their call for an injunction of a new law prohibiting transgender girls from playing girls and women’s sports, while the West Virginia Board of Education filed a motion for the case to be dismissed.
In a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Wednesday, attorneys for the transgender girl and her mother, Heather Jackson, filed a reply to several motions from the state Board of Education, the Harrison County Board of Education, and the Attorney General’s Office arguing against a preliminary injunction against House Bill 3293, relating to transgender student participation in interscholastic athletic events.
ACLU-WV attorney Loree Stark, one of several attorneys representing the transgender girl, the U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin should grant the injunction to block the law, which takes effect Thursday.
The girl, a student in the Harrison County school system, had hoped to try out for her middle school’s cross-country team for the next school year. Stark said tryouts begin the first week of August.
“None of the Defendants refutes (the student’s) showing that HB 3293 – in purpose, text, and effect – discriminates without justification against (the student) and other girls who are transgender…,” Stark wrote. “It is also undisputed that, absent an injunction, (the student) will be prohibited from participating on the girls’ cross country and track teams at her middle school…”
HB 3293 requires student-athletes in middle school, high school or college to participate in sports that match their biological sex based on the student’s sex at the time of their birth. It specifically targets transgender girls and women, whom some believe provide and element of unfairness when competing against biological girls and women. The West Virginia Legislature passed the bill on April 9, with Gov. Jim Justice signing the bill on April 28.
The girl is represented by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the law firm Cooley LLP. Those firls filed suit in May against the state Board of Education, the Harrison County Board of Education, and the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, who all filed responses arguing against the injunction. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office filed as a defendant-intervenor.
On Thursday, attorneys for the state Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Attorney Kelly Morgan argued that the state board and the Department of Education played no role in crafting HB 3293. The new law will require the state board to approve rules for implementing the law, though the board has no enforcement authority for denying entry of transgender girls to middle and high school sports.
“…Neither WVBOE State Superintendent nor WVBOE play any role in the monitoring or enforcement for any aspect of extracurricular athletics eligibility,” Morgan wrote. “Instead, monitoring and enforcement are the responsibility of other entities (i.e. county boards of education and/or WVSSAC).”
Earlier this week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that state-funded travel by California government employees would be restricted for five states, including West Virginia because of HB 3293.