Protesting female athletes 'step out' after court strikes down law that protects them

Protesting female athletes 'step out' after court strikes down law that protects them

Protesting female athletes 'step out' after court strikes down law that protects them

A law firm representing a female soccer player is considering its next steps after losing a Title IX legal fight to a three-judge panel this week.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a West Virginia state law that bans male athletes from participating in female-only sports.

The appeals court ruled the West Virginia law violates Title IX, the 1970s federal law that was passed to protect female athletes and their sports programs from discrimination.

West Virginia’s law, passed in 2021, is called the Save Women’s Sports Act.

The state's attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, represented the state in the lawsuit. "We know the law is correct and will use every available tool to defend it," he said after the 4th Circuit ruling. 

Rachel Rouleau, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, says women and girls deserve to compete on a “level playing field” but that right was stripped away in the 4th Circuit ruling.

"The court's reasoning allows males to compete on women's sports teams, and really takes away opportunities for women and girls to compete on a level playing field," the attorney tells AFN. 

X post of defiant girls goes viral 

The 2-1 court ruling came just two days before an X post showed five West Virginia middle school female athletes refusing to compete in a shot put competition against a male athlete.

The females silently protested by stepping in, then stepping out, without participating in the shot put, according to a related Outkick article.

The male athlete, representing the girls track and field team from Bridgeport Middle School, competed in the shot put and the discus throw. 

The video of the defiant middle-school girls got noticed by Morrisey, the attorney general. "I will stand by these middle school female athletes," he wrote on X, "as we continue this fight for justice, basic fairness, and common sense." 

Rouleau, Rachel (ADF) Rouleau

Rouleau and ADF are representing Lainey Armistead, a former soccer team captain at West Virginia State. After the ACLU sued to stop the state law, ADF helped Armistead join the lawsuit and fight for the state law.  

Rouleau says ADF’s options include appealing to the entire 4th Circuit or directly asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.