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Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer with the Kentucky Wildcats who has been a staunch supporter for fairness in women’s sports, praised a group of middle school girls who refused to compete against a transgender athlete last week.

Gaines appeared on Fox News Channel’s “America Reports” along with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey after the official announced he will fight the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling to strike down the state’s “Save Women’s Sports Act.”

The Bridgeport, West Virginia, middle-schoolers stepped into the circle for the shot put and discus competitions and then stepped out in protest of the transgender athlete who was competing against them, according to OutKick

“I could not be more proud of these girls,” Gaines, an OutKick contributor who hosts the “Gaines for Girls” podcast told Sandra Smith. “Again, 13, 14 years old, they’re in middle school yet they’re the ones who are forced to be the adults in the room to advocate for their own rights to quality opportunity, safety and privacy which were once ensured by Title IX, but now, of course, are under threat, and which were once ensured by the law here in West Virginia. But now, with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, it’s all under threat, which sets a terrible precedent.

“Could not be more proud, could not be more inspired, by these girls. Ultimately, that’s what revitalizes me. It reminds me of what we’re fighting for. It’s girls just like Emmy Salerno and the other four girls who decided not to compete against a boy when given the opportunity.”

Morrisey also praised the girls.

“What we saw last week with those five young girls stepping up, I think that should be replicated across the country,” he said. “But the stakes in this case on a lot of these issues, they couldn’t be any higher.”

Earlier, Morrisey was with Gaines for the ceremonial signing of Independent Women’s Voice’s “Stand With Women” commitment. He then announced he would take the state’s case over the Save Women’s Sports Act to the Supreme Court.

Patrick Morrisey in April 2024

The state law prohibited transgender girls from competing against biological girls in sports. But in a 2-1 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the law violated Title IX – siding with the American Civil Liberties Union, its West Virginia chapter and Lambda Legal.

“We’re vigorously defending the law and that law is reasonable,” Morrisey said. “It’s based on biology and it’s based on fairness.

“We’re working on defending the integrity of women’s sports. We must protect our young women. Opportunities for women and girls are precious and we have to take advantage for every one of them. And every time a biological male competes, he takes away an opportunity from a biological girl.

“That isn’t just unfair. Boys have a competitive advantage. They’re bigger. They’re faster. They’re stronger – whether or not they’ve gone through typical biological male puberty.”

At the news conference, Gaines added, “Allowing males to compete in women’s sports is risky, it is unfair and it is discriminatory. And it must stop – which is exactly what AG Morrisey has been fighting so tenaciously for.”

OREGON HIGH SCHOOL TRANSGENDER TRACK ATHLETE COMPETES AGAINST GIRLS AT EVENT, SPARKING OUTRAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Riley Gaines at a presser

West Virginia’s “Save Women’s Sports Act” was signed into law in 2021. It required student-athletes to compete and play against those of their biological gender. The law was challenged on the basis that it violated the 14th Amendment and protections under Title IX.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin ruled in January 2023 that the law did not violate Title IX protections. However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reinstate a preliminary injunction.

The Supreme Court ruled last April that the transgender girl who challenged the law could compete with biological girls on the middle school’s girls’ sports teams. Supreme Court justices refused to disturb an appeals court order that made it possible for the girl to continue playing on her school’s track and cross-country teams. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision.

West Virginia was one of at least 24 states that had laws barring transgender women and girls from competing against the gender they identify as.

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