Gillian Branstetter, ACLU,

Billy Wolfe, ACLU of West Virginia,

Tom Warnke, Lambda Legal,


CHARLESTON, W Va. - A federal district court has ruled that West Virginia can enforce a 2021 law banning transgender youth from playing on the athletics team consistent with their gender identity.

The ruling came in the lawsuit challenging the ban filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Cooley LLP on behalf of 12-year-old Becky Pepper Jackson who was blocked from trying out for her school’s cross-country team by the law. 

The ACLU, the ACLU of West Virginia, Lambda Legal, and Cooley LLP issued the following joint statement:

“The District Court’s ruling is disappointing. The fact is the equal and fair participation of transgender youth takes nothing away from cisgender youth and helps to maintain a level playing field for all youth. While we consider our next steps, we extend our heartbreak and solidarity to the transgender West Virginians impacted by this law and the families whose trans youth are being needlessly harmed by it.”

15 states and the District of Columbia explicitly allow transgender youth to play on the team most consistent with their gender identity. In December 2022, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to Connecticut’s trans-inclusive athletics policy. Since 2020, 18 states have banned or restricted transgender youth from participating in student athletics.