The Department of Justice is mounting a case arguing laws in West Virginia and Arkansas that bar transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports are unconstitutional, despite the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting biological gender segregation in sports, according to a report citing court papers.
“The United States has a significant interest in ensuring that all students, including students who are transgender, can participate in an educational environment free of unlawful discrimination,” the DOJ said in court documents filed in a West Virginia court case Thursday, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
The DOJ asked a judge to overturn the West Virginia rule — signed into law by Republican Governor Jim Justice in April — which blocks transgender athletes from playing in women’s sports from middle school through college, the outlet reported.
“A state law that limits or denies a particular class of people’s ability to participate in public, federally funded educational programs and activities solely because their gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth violates both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause,” the court papers continued.
In fact, “That policy does nothing to further the state’s purported goal of protecting athletic opportunities for girls,” the DOJ argued, according to the report.
Nine other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Tennessee, have similar laws — though Idaho’s law is currently on hold because of a court injunction.
The DOJ raised similar arguments in an Arkansas case opposing a law in the state that bars medical workers from helping transgender minors receive care as they transition. Both states’ rules violate the 14th Amendment, the DOJ charged.
The Justice Department was seeking to intervene in the cases in support of transgender-rights groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union — which filed the West Virginia and Arkansas lawsuits.
The attorneys general for both West Virginia and Arkansas did not immediately respond to the Daily Mail’s request for comment.
A poll from May found that a majority of Americans don’t support transgender athletes competing with the gender they identify with.
The results came from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, which found that only 34 percent of responders believed trans athletes should be able to play on sports teams that match their gender identity.
On the other side of the issue, 62 percent said trans athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that matched their gender at birth.