On July 3, 2024 ACLU of Virginia and WilmerHale filed a Title IX lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of “Janie Doe,” a transgender student whom Hanover County Public School blocked from playing on a sports team for which she tried out and qualified. 

“Janie Doe” is a middle school student at a Hanover County public school who is not allowed to participate in a girls’ sports team. Even though she successfully qualified during tryouts, and her parents provided documentation requested by the school board to establish her eligibility, the school board voted unanimously to exclude her from the team. 

The school board’s 2023 vote came amid a coordinated effort across the country to block transgender young people from participating in sports. With no evidence to support that transgender athletes categorically have an unfair advantage over cisgender athletes, bills seeking blanket bans on transgender girls and women participating in school sports appear instead to be motivated by simple anti-trans animus. Trans athletes within the Virginia High School League, for example, have been able to compete for more than a decade on teams consistent with their gender identity without any disruption whatsoever. 

Title IX explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding, like playing on sports teams. Blanket bans on transgender athletes violate Title IX, and schools that enact such policies risk exposing ALL students to potential harm, discrimination, and serious privacy violations.

The Hanover County School Board will have an opportunity to respond to “Janie Doe’s” request to be allowed to play on her girls’ sports team during the coming fall season before the court hears arguments on her request for preliminary legal relief. 

Related News Coverage:

Transgender student blocked from tennis team sues Va. school district | Washington Post

ACLU sues Hanover Public Schools on behalf of 11-year-old trans tennis player | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Janie Doe wants to play tennis at a Hanover County middle school. The school board won’t let her. | WTVR

Hearing date set for trans student banned from Hanover tennis team | VPM

Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Va. student blocked from girls sports team | Washington Blade

ACLU of Virginia sues Hanover school board on behalf of trans student | VPM

ACLU of Virginia sues Hanover School Board on behalf of transgender student allegedly banned from sports team | WRIC

ACLU of Virginia files Title IX lawsuit against Hanover School Board on behalf of transgender athlete after sports ban | WRIC

ACLU files lawsuit after transgender student was blocked from playing on team | WHSV

Trans tennis player files lawsuit over school sports policy | NewsNation

Lawsuit challenges Hanover County School Board policy on transgender student athletes | WRIC

Attorney(s)

Wyatt Rolla

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

WilmerHale

Date filed

July 3, 2024

Court

Eastern District of Virginia

Status

Filed