CHARLESTON, WV – Today, Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) celebrated the introduction of HB 5243—the West Virginia Women’s Bill of Rights (WBOR), applauding Governor Jim Justice and Sen. Patrick Martin (R-Lewis) and Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse (R-Putnam) for their commitment to advancing this legislation into law. By fortifying the definitions of male and female terms in law, IWV’s Women’s Bill of Rights in West Virginia would help protect the existence of single-sex spaces, such as rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, prisons, athletic teams, locker rooms, and sororities.

The word “woman” and “female” are used in 120 West Virginia statutes. If passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Justice, Independent Women’s Voice’s Women’s Bill of Rights would:

  • Define sex-based terms used in state law;
  • Declare the state has an important interest in protecting single sex spaces; and,
  • Ensure the accuracy of public data collection.

Women’s Bill of Rights model legislation, first announced in March 2022, was drafted by Independent Women’s Voice and Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) in collaboration with the feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF).

Today, Governor Justice, Sen. Patrick Martin, and Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse joined Independent Women’s Voice Ambassador Riley Gaines for a press conference committed to the advancement and ultimate passage of this legislation. Independent Women’s Network’s West Virginia chapter, the grassroots community activist arm of Independent Women’s Voice, also participated in this event, showcasing support for this legislation among West Virginia women.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said, “I was honored to join Independent Women’s Voice Ambassador Riley Gaines and Independent Women’s Law Center Director May Mailman to lend my support to this crucial legislation aimed at preserving the rights of women in our great state. In West Virginia, we have already taken a stand by enacting a law that safeguards women’s sports for women. However, the necessity of the Women’s Bill of Rights is evident as we witness continual attempts to not only undermine women’s sports but also destroy the fundamental distinction between male and female. That’s why I support the Women’s Bill of Rights, and will proudly sign it into law when it reaches my desk.”

Independent Women’s Voice Ambassador, Riley Gaines, said, “I commend Governor Justice for committing to sign the West Virginia Women’s Bill of Rights. Now it’s incumbent on this legislature to get it to his desk. West Virginians know what a woman is, and I have full faith this bill will swiftly move through the legislative process.”

Independent Women’s Law Center Director, May Mailman, said, “West Virginians deserve the facts. State-run scholarships for women are for women. Girls’ State is for girls. By defining what these terms mean, rather than letting a judge or bureaucrat get inventive, West Virginia becomes a fairer, more democratic state.”

Independent Women’s Network West Virginia Chapter Leader, T-Anne See, said, “As the Independent Women’s Network Chapter Leader in West Virginia, and most of all as a mother and grandmother to girls, I am very proud of our State and Governor Jim Justice for advancing the Women’s Bill of Rights, which recognizes that indeed there are differences between the sexes and those lines should not be blurred whether it’s in sports or the locker room. Who would have thought a few short years ago that in 2024, we would be advocating once again for women’s rights, equality, and safety. ”

West Virginia would be the fifth state to implement the Women’s Bill of Rights, defining ‘sex’ to mean biological sex. Kansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Nebraska have also adopted IWV’s Women’s Bill of Rights-inspired legislation.

WBOR Press Conference LIVESTREAM.

WBOR Press Conference PHOTOS.

Independent Women’s Voice fights for women by expanding support for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.