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West Virginia transgender athlete bill signed by governor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia’s governor signed a bill Wednesday that bans transgender athletes from competing in female sports in middle and high schools and colleges. The bill was among 38 signed by the Republican governor. It had narrowly passed the state Senate, which had added the college component, before being overwhelmingly approved in the House of Delegates.

Justice said earlier this week that he would “proudly” sign the bill despite warnings from some lawmakers that the NCAA could retaliate and decide not to hold college tournaments in the state. Last month, hundreds of college athletes signed a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors asking the organization to refuse to schedule championships in states that have banned transgender athlete participation in sports. The NCAA 2016 moved championships out of North Carolina in response to a bill legislating transgender people’s use of public restrooms.

West Virginia

“It concerns me that we may miss out on a really important sporting event or something like that that could come to West Virginia,” Justice said. “However, I think the benefits of it way outweigh the bad part of it.”

Bills seeking to ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public schools also have been enacted this year in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. At the same time, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has implemented the move by executive order.

“We regret the governor has signed this cruel and unlawful bill after refusing to meet with young transgender West Virginians and their family members,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter said. It added in its statement: “ACLU-WV stands ready to intervene whenever and wherever this harmful law is enforced.”

Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia, an LGBTQ advocacy group, had said if the bill became law, it “will be a legal and financial disaster for our state.”among all states who identified as transgender. That equated to about 1,150 teens.

During a debate in the House of Delegates, Republican John Mandt defended the bill. He said it could drive residents to move into the state, a comment ridiculed by Democrat Cody Thompson, an openly gay man.

“This isn’t going to bring people to West Virginia,” Thompson said. “This just sends a message across the country that we’re closed-minded and don’t accept you for who you are.”

Several Democrats said the bill was discriminatory, while some Republicans said the bill was about ensuring an equal playing field for biologically female athletes. Supporters have argued that transgender athletes would have physical advantages in female sports.

The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission has not received any complaints about transgender athletes on girls’ teams. SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan has said the SSAC is unaware of openly transgender students participating in educational sports currently or in the past.

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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