The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday that they plan to challenge laws in West Virginia and Arkansas that prohibit trans athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports.
The department filed statements of interest that claim that the trans athlete laws in those two states are unconstitutional.
According to the Associated Press:
In West Virginia, a law prohibits transgender athletes from competing in female sports. Arkansas became the first state to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.
The DOJ said the laws in both states violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. It also said the West Virginia law violates Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal funds.
And in a third case, West Virginia’s Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit filed on behalf of a transgender male student who said an assistant principal harassed him when he tried to use the boys bathroom.
“A state law that limits or denies a particular class of people’s ability to participate in public, federally funded educational programs and activities solely because their gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth violates both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause,” the Justice Department statement of interest said. The state law “does exactly this.”
The West Virginia chapter of the ACLU and Lambda Legal, a group that focuses on LGBTQ issues, challenged the state’s trans athlete ban on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl and cross-country competitor.
In Arkansas, the ACLU filed on behalf of four transgender youth who seek to challenge the state’s prohibition on gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers, surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from providing referrals for those procedures.
Republican lawmakers overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto to pass that ran athlete bill in April. Hutchinson opposed the measure because he said it made no provision to exempt people already receiving trans-related medical procedures.
Some 20 states have either passed or are attempting to pass laws that prohibit trans athletes from competing in women’s sports.