Along with several other states, West Virginia is taking a stand to make sure women and girls have a level playing field.
When it comes to secondary and collegiate athletics, West Virginia’s Save Women’s Sports Act makes sure that males who identify as transgender cannot take a spot from a deserving girl on any athletic team.
The Save Women’s Sports Act is a commonsense law that protects equal opportunity, fairness, and safety for women. But it’s being threatened by a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Alliance Defending Freedom intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of Lainey Armistead, a collegiate soccer player at West Virginia State University (WSVU).
Who is Lainey Armistead?
Lainey Armistead is a junior at WVSU, and soccer is far more than “just a game” to her. She defines it as a “passion and a life-defining pursuit.”
“Soccer was like the air I breathed growing up. I first kicked a soccer ball at three years old—almost as soon as I could walk,” says Lainey in her Motion to Intervene. “I have made many sacrifices over the course of my athletic career to play the sport that I love. I have missed school dances, spring breaks, family events, and friends’ birthdays. I have given up my weekends and free time. I stay at school late for practice and get up early to train. But I make these sacrifices because I want to be the best that I can be. I want to win—not just for myself, but also for my teammates.”
Lainey plays left back for the Yellow Jackets and serves as team captain.
In 2021, West Virginia joined several other states—including Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Arkansas, and Florida—in passing legislation that keeps males from competing in women’s sports.
This commonsense law ensures equal opportunities for women and girls in sports and protects their safety by making sure they are not forced to compete against males. But the American Civil Liberties Union is attacking the Save Women’s Sports Act in a lawsuit.
As a longtime athlete who could be directly affected by the law and the ACLU’s challenge to it, Lainey Armistead stood up to defend not only her own interests, but also the basic standards of fairness and safety for female athletes across West Virginia.
What's at stake?
A male’s belief about his gender doesn’t erase his physical advantages over female athletes, and girls deserve to compete on a level playing field.
“As one who grew up in a house full of brothers who played soccer, and a dad who coached soccer, Lainey is well-acquainted with the physical differences that give males an athletic performance advantage,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer.
“[S]occer is a rough contact sport: concussion, knee, and ankle injuries are common among female players. Add into the mix a male who races down the field at a faster pace, kicks the ball harder, and slams into other players with a larger physical frame, and the risk of injury to girls and women increases dramatically.”
- April 2021: West Virginia passed the Save Women’s Sports Act.
- July 2021: A federal district judge temporarily blocked West Virginia from enforcing the law against the plaintiff.
- September 2021: ADF attorneys representing Lainey Armistead filed a motion asking a federal district court to allow Lainey to intervene to defend the law.
- December 2021: The district court issued an order allowing Lainey to intervene.
The bottom line
Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports destroys fair competition, safety on the field, and women’s athletic opportunities. When biological differences between men and women are ignored within our laws and culture, people get hurt. In this case, women.