B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education
“I know how hurtful a law like this is to all kids like me who just want to play sports with their classmates, and I’m doing this for them. Trans kids deserve better.”
The lawsuit was brought by and on behalf of then 11-year-old, now 12-year old Becky Pepper-Jackson. Becky comes from a family of avid runners and was looking forward to trying out for the girls’ cross-country team as she prepared to start middle school when Gov. Jim Justice signed HB 3293 into law. H.B. 3293 bans girls and women who are transgender from participating in school sports. Due to the preliminary injunction granted by the Southern District of West Virginia in July of 2021, Becky was able to try out for and participate on her school’s girls’ cross country and track-and-field teams for three seasons without complaint.
“Nothing makes me happier than being on a team with my friends and competing on behalf of my school,” said Pepper-Jackson. “I have many more years of cross-country and track-and-field left, and I just want the opportunity to participate in school sports like any other girl.”
The State of West Virginia enacted a categorical ban to prevent a twelve-year-old girl from playing on a team with her friends and being happy. Becky feels “sad and frustrated” that West Virginia does not see her for the girl that she is.
“I just want to run, I come from a family of runners,” said Pepper-Jackson. “I know how hurtful a law like this is to all kids like me who just want to play sports with their classmates, and I’m doing this for them. Trans kids deserve better.”
HB 3293 was one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. During legislative debate, it was not endorsed by any mainstream sporting or health organizations. A similar law in Idaho was blocked by a federal court in 2020 and a federal court in Connecticut recently dismissed a challenge to policies that allow all girls, including girls who are transgender, to participate on girls’ sports teams.
- July 21, 2021: U.S. District Court grants Lambda Legal motion for preliminary injunction, blocking implementation of HB 2393.
- January 5, 2023: U.S. District Court grants summary judgment to the State of West Virginia and denies summary judgment to B.P.J., allowing implementation of HB 3293,
- February 22, 2023: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit grants stay motion on District Court ruling pending appeal, allowing B.P.J. to join her middle school track team.
- March 13, 2023: West Virginia files application with the United States Supreme Court to vacate the stay motion entered by the Fourth Circuit.