Appeals court rules against West Virginia ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ — By: Catholic News Agency

The Court of Federal Appeals (Lewis F. Powell Courthouse) and the skyline of Richmond, Virginia, from the foot of the Virginia Capitol grounds, Richmond, Virginia. / Credit: Acroterion|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 16, 2024 / 17:55 pm (CNA).

A federal appeals court has blocked a West Virginia law titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act” that prohibits biological males from competing in female sports in the state.

The 2-1 decision was issued by a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The decision extends an already existing block on the law and sends the case back to a lower court for further consideration.

This is the latest development in B.P.J v. West Virginia State Board of Education, a case in which a 13-year-old child who identifies as a girl is alleging that the West Virginia law violates Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.

The 13-year-old, who is a biological male named Becky Pepper-Jackson, is being represented by the ACLU of West Virginia. Pepper-Jackson is seeking to compete in a school track and cross country program.

The Fourth Circuit Court said that the lower court, which had upheld the West Virginia law in a January ruling, erred by ruling to allow the law to go into effect.

The law, signed by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in April 2021, declares that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex” because “there are inherent differences between biological males and biological females.”

The law states that allowing biological males in competitive female sports would “displace” female athletes from those spaces.  

The circuit court’s Tuesday ruling said that Pepper-Jackson has demonstrated that if implemented the law “would treat her worse than people to whom she is similarly situated, deprive her of any meaningful athletic opportunities, and do so on the basis of sex.”

Based on this, the panel ruled that the case be “remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment for B.P.J. on her Title IX claims and for further proceedings (including remedial proceedings) consistent with this opinion.”

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