CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Fairness West Virginia (FWV), a civil rights advocacy organization for the LGBTQ community, released its WV Equality Report Card for 2021-2022 and found that nearly 70 percent of West Virginia’s lawmakers got failing marks on the report card. Failing means they voted in favor of every bill that FWV considered anti-LGBTQ or to affect LGBTQ individuals.
Here are the bills included in the report and a brief description of their effects. You can find the full bills by following the links provided. With the intention of clarity between this article and the report card, these bills will be named as they are described in the report (bolded) in addition to using the actual designation of the bill.
- “Classroom Gag Order”: House Bill 4011 and Senate Bill 498 — These bills were designed to provide more transparency for curriculums taught in school and prevent teachers from expressing any racial, religious, ethnic or national bias, while encouraging them to talk about racial issues such as slavery. However, according to FWV, the vagueness of the bill and the inclusion of terms like “biological sex” would have the reverse effect, and make teachers more hesitant to talk about gender and racial issues out of fear of legal backlash. Teachers advocating for the LGBTQ community could be seen as expressing a preference towards them, opening them up to legal ramifications.
- “Pro-Conversion Therapy Bill”: Senate Bill 71 — This bill would have prohibited political subdivisions from enacting certain legal requirements on standards of care, conduct, or licensing fees for any profession regulated, licensed, or certified by the State of West Virginia. Fairness West Virginia said in its release that this would have included bans on conversion therapy in four communities, including Morgantown and Charleston.
- “Trans Athlete Ban”: House Bill 3293 — This bill was approved in April of 2021, and prevents any transgender athletes who were born male from participating in sports that are designated for females, women or girls in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by any public secondary school or a state institution of higher education, including a state institution that is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), such as West Virginia University.
- “Abolishing Local Liberty”: House Bill 2232 — This bill, had it been passed, would have allowed cities to charter provisions that could put forth or call for a municipal vote on an ordinance if a petition had been signed by 10 percent of the city’s qualified voters. Upon presentation of a petition signed by no less than 15 percent of the votes in the last general election, special municipal elections could also be held to recall any ordinance or city code provision previously enacted by the governance of the municipality. According to Fairness West Virginia, this would have allowed a “super minority” of voters to repeal any city ordinance, including local nondiscrimination protections that have already been adopted by 16 communities.
The report card includes a list of every West Virginia House of Delegates member and every State Senator and how they voted in regard to LGBTQ legislation. You can search by which legislators represent your county, by the name of the legislator or by a specific bill.
A check indicates Fairness West Virginia supports how a legislator voted, and an X indicates the vote was opposed by FWV. You can see how your representatives voted by checking the full report here.