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Bill Placing Restrictions On Transgender Student Athletes Passes W.Va. House Education Committee

Del. Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, speaks during a House Education Committee meeting on March 17, 2021.
Perry Bennett
WV Legislative Photography
Del. Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, speaks during a House Education Committee meeting on March 17, 2021.

A bill requiring student athletes in middle and high school to play sports under the gender assigned to them at birth is starting to move in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

The House Education Committee passed a bill Tuesday afternoon that would prohibit transgender students from competing on “single-sex” sports teams that match their gender identity. For example, under the bill, a person who was born female but identifies as male would not be allowed to play on a boy’s high school basketball team.

The bill requires that a student’s birth certificate is the determining factor of that child’s gender when it comes to playing secondary sports. The bill further requires that if a birth certificate is not available, a student must obtain a physician's note indicating the student’s sex based "solely on the pupil’s unaltered internal and external reproductive anatomy.”

The bill would not affect current co-ed secondary school athletic opportunities.

Several Democrats expressed concerns about discrimination and concerns about the physical examination, including Del. Cody Thompson, D-Randolph. Thompson is openly gay and a teacher.

“If [the physical exam] is for a medical reason, I totally understand it and get it, but just to prove their gender, I don’t think that’s right,” Thompson said. “I don’t think any of us want our children subjected to that.”

No delegates spoke in favor of the bill. It was not immediately clear following the vote whether the bill had been double-referenced to a second committee or sent directly to the full chamber.

West Virginia is now one of several states where Republican-led legislatures have introduced similar legislation this year to place restrictions on transgender athletes.

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