West Virginia church issues statement of support for member and student-athlete affected by transgender case

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (BP) – A young member of a Southern Baptist church is involved in a West Virginia case about a transgender student and athletics that could have national ramifications.

The member of Simpson Creek Baptist Church currently attends Bridgeport High School. She was a member of Bridgeport Middle School’s track and field team last year and a teammate of the student at the center of the case.

Simpson Creek, established in 1772, has “a long tradition of proclaiming the Gospel and clearly articulating Christian doctrine” in the community, the church said in a statement to Baptist Press. “One of our deeply held beliefs entails the equality of each human being created in the image of God.

“When one of our members is not afforded the free and equal treatment that is due to them by their rights under God, our church believes it is our moral duty to protect and advocate for the rights of its members,” it read. “We, therefore, seek to stand with our church member who has lost opportunities to compete on a girl’s track team free from inequality in her athletic endeavors and the discomfort caused by sharing a dressing room with a biological male.”

In 2021 West Virginia passed the Save Women’s Sports Act, which designated participation in sports based on biological sex rather than gender identity. The transgender student, now in the eighth grade, has identified as a girl since elementary school and takes puberty-blocking medication and estrogen hormone therapy.  

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded with a federal lawsuit and preliminary injunction that was tossed out in January 2023. A month later the 4th Circuit of Appeals reinstated the injunction, allowing transgender students to compete according to their gender identity.

On April 16, the three-judge panel on the appeals court again ruled in favor of the transgender student, saying that the West Virginia statue violated Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools.

The state’s attorney general responded by announcing in a press conference on April 24 that he intends to push the case before the Supreme Court, reported MetroNews of West Virginia. 

“This is one of the most important cases that my office has handled over the past 12 years,” said AG Patrick Morrisey. “We are vigorously defending the law, and that law is reasonable. It’s based on biology, and it’s based on fairness. We are working to defend the integrity of women’s sports. We must protect our young women.”

In the recent county championships, five members of another school refused to participate against the transgender student in the shot put, which that student eventually won by three feet. 

One of those five joined former University of Kentucky swimmer and women’s sports activist Riley Gaines at the April 24 press conference. She spoke on the changes in the transgender athlete’s body over the last year that gave him distinct advantages over the girls.

The church said it has long standing convictions about God’s created order and design.

“In accordance with Genesis, we believe God created male and female. Our church covenants dating back to the 1830s clearly teach this doctrine as well. Since it is our deeply held belief that God created only two genders, as an application thereof we believe that women involved in sports ought to have the ability to compete according to their gender and age.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

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