Teen girls who protested against trans athlete plan to sue after being ‘barred from future events’

Five girls who reportedly refused to participate in a shot-put competition with a transgender athlete are planning to sue a board of education.

The lawsuit comes after they were allegedly barred from competing in that event at their next track and field meet following a silent protest, West Virginia Watch reported.

A legal complaint filed on Friday (26 April) accused the Harrison County Board of Education, in West Virginia, of “unfairness” after allowing trans shot-putter Becky Pepper-Jackson to compete.

The 13-year-old trans athlete was permitted to enter sporting competitions after an appeal court ruled that a law banning her was the “definition of discrimination”.

During a shot-put competition at Lincoln Middle School on 18 April, five girls reportedly held a silent protest to object to Pepper-Jackson’s participation, entering the shot-put circle when their names were called but leaving without actually taking part. They were then reportedly told they would be barred from their next meet.

A legal complaint was subsequently filed against the board of education, arguing that the students were punished for “exercising their right to freedom of speech and expression under the constitution of West Virginia”.

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Right wing activist and former swimmer Riley Gaines tweeted about the incident, saying: “These girls stood up for what they believed and their coach barred them from competing. Insane” in a post on X on Monday.

The lawsuit further accused the board of perpetuating the “ongoing unfairness of permitting a biological male to compete in women’s sporting events”.

West Virginia transgender athlete, Becky Pepper-Jackson.
Trans teenage shot-putter Becky Pepper-Jackson is the focus of a new lawsuit. (Getty)

State attorney general Patrick Morrisey filed an amicus brief in support of the five athletes, in which he accused Harrison County Schools of censorship.

“The only thing this decision does is teach children to keep their mouths shut and not disagree with what they saw as unfairness,” Republican Morrisey said.

“That is outrageous and it tramples these students’ rights to freedom of speech and expression.”

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the West Virginia law, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which was passed in 2021, treats trans girls differently and discriminates against them based on their gender identity.

“The defendants cannot expect [Becky Pepper-Jackson to] countermand her social transition, her medical treatment and all the work she has done with her schools, teachers and coaches, for nearly half her life, by introducing herself to teammates, coaches and even opponents as a boy,” the court ruled.

The decision was hailed as a “tremendous victory” for trans West Virginians by American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Joshua Block, who represented Pepper-Jackson in the case.