The West Virginia Senate on Thursday
approved a controversial bill that bars transgender girls and women
from participating in female sports.
House Bill 3293 cleared the
Republican-led chamber with an 18-15 vote. The GOP-controlled House
of Delegates approved the bill last month with a wider 78-20 vote.
The House must take up the bill a
second time to vote on changes introduced in the Senate.
The Senate debated the bill for about
an hour before voting on it.
State Senator William Ihlenfeld, a
Democrat, told colleagues that the measure was “cruel” and
“Some in this room don't seem to care
that this bill is cruel, that it's narrow-minded, that it's
mean-spirited, that it's unnecessary,” he said. “That it's purely
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, criticized the bill's advance
in a statement.
“The West Virginia state legislature
is stoking fear and division by advancing HB 3293 – a
discriminatory anti-transgender bill that has no place in West
Virginia or this country,” HRC President Alphonso David said.
“There is no evidence that supports the need for this legislation,
and it will jeopardize the well-being of transgender kids across the
state – who are just kids who want to play. The health and safety
of children should never be reduced to a political talking point.
West Virginians need state legislators to prioritize the COVID-19
pandemic and economic relief, not manufactured issues that
discriminate against transgender youth. The West Virginia House of
Delegates must vote down this bill and stand firm for equality for
all West Virginians.”
Republican Governor Jim Justice on
Thursday didn't comment on the bill's passage or whether he would
Dakota have similar bans, while a
law in Idaho was blocked from enforcement last year.