While state attorneys review it, Gov. Jim Justice on Monday said he would “proudly” sign a bill that would prevent transgender girls from participating in public school-sanctioned sports in West Virginia.
The governor has until Wednesday to sign or veto House Bill 3293 or let it become law without his signature.
Earlier this month, Justice was still deciding what he would do with the bill, but did say on April 14 that he was against vetoing the bill.
On Monday, he answered a question from WOWK-TV asking about his plans for the bill.
“We’re having our attorneys here continue to review every aspect of the whole thing, and they’ll advise and everything,” Justice said. “So I can’t tell you positively what I’m going to do, but right now … if I have to make the decision right now — veto, sign the bill, or let it go to law — I’m going to sign it and sign it proudly because I really believe that’s the right thing to do.”
Justice on Monday reiterated that his only concern about the bill was the potential ramifications it may have for the state if the NCAA carries out its announced intention to pull championship events from states with transgender athletic bans.
“I was absolutely all in from the standpoint of our middle schools and our high schools,” Justice said when he initially considered the bill. “And then I thought, well, the NCAA is going to be so liberal, and they’re going to be over the top and everything. I hated in the beginning, in some ways, that we moved that way and included our colleges because I thought, you know, we’re going to be in a situation, as sure as I now my name, you know, what is going to happen here is we’re going to miss a lot of opportunities with our colleges here in West Virginia.”
LGBTQ leaders have called on the governor to veto the bill, saying it sets the state back and reinforces stereotypes of West Virginians being backwards on social issues.
On Monday, Andrew Schneider, president of Fairness West Virginia, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ equality in the state, said there were plenty of other people and issues to consider when making his final decision on the bill.
“As this process continues, his staff will surely see how rushed the legislative process was and how likely a federal court will be to strike it down,” Schneider said. “This bill will be a financial and legal disaster for our state, and I encourage Gov. Justice to listen to the experts. West Virginia can continue to ensure our school sports are fair without harming vulnerable kids and violating federal law.”
In August 2020, a federal judge in an Idaho district court granted an injunction preventing a transgender athlete ban from taking effect in that state until it can be determined in court whether the law is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Idaho was the first state in the country to pass a transgender athlete ban. An appeal of the injunction is pending in U.S. Circuit Court.