West Virginia

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in the States

LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in West Virginia:

There are currently no explicit, comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people in West Virginia.

The Latest on LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in West Virginia:

State and national advocates are working toward furthering the conversation of why nondiscrimination protections matter in West Virginia.

During the 2016 legislative session, West Virginia lawmakers took steps to reject anti-LGBT discrimination. In January legislators introduced House Bill 4012, a broad bill that would have codified discrimination by allowing any business or individual to cite their religious beliefs as an excuse for denying services to other West Virginians. The bill was ultimately rejected by a bipartisan group of Senators, setting the stage for forward momentum in 2017.

In April 2016 the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit – which includes West Virginia, as well as South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, ruled in favor of a transgender high school student who had been prohibited from using the boy’s bathroom despite his male gender identity.

History of Non-Discrimination Protections:

  • January 26, 2016: HB 4012, known as the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is introduced in the West Virginia Legislature.
  • February 11, 2016: HB4012 passes the House, 72-26.
  • March 2, 2016: Following a prominent campaign from advocates, led by statewide LGBT organization Fairness West Virginia, HB4012 is rejected by a bipartisan group of Senators by a vote of 27-7. With the West Virginia legislative session now ended with all anti-LGBT legislation defeated, significant momentum has been built toward nondiscrimination in the future.
  • April 19, 2016: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of a transgender teenager in Virginia who was prevented from using the restroom at his school matching his gender identity, overturning a negative lower court ruling. Once the decision takes effect, it will be binding across the 4th Circuit, including in West Virginia.
  • August 2016: The Supreme Court agrees to hear the case of Gavin Grimm in October of that year; however, following the Trump administration’s rescinding of guidance on transgender students in schools previously issued by President Obama, the court remands the case to the lower district court.
  • May 11, 2018: Gavin Grimm wins his case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, with Judge Arenda Wright-Allen’s ruling stating, “the Court concludes that Mr. Grimm has sufficiently pled a Title IX claim of sex discrimination under a gender stereotyping theory.”
  • August 26, 2020: After the school board appeals to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Court upholds Jude Wright-Allen’s ruling.

Municipalities with LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Protections in West Virginia:

The following municipalities protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity:

  • City of Athens
  • City of Beckley
  • City of Charles Town
  • City of Charleston
  • City of Harpers Ferry
  • City of Huntington
  • City of Lewisburg
  • City of Martinsburg
  • City of Morgantown
  • City of Shepherdstown
  • City of Sutton
  • City of Thurmond
  • City of Wheeling

Last Updated January 05, 2021