WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – Robb Livingood, a West Virginia native, a public defender, and a transgender man recently won a three-year-long legal battle.
The victory in court sets an important precedent for the West Virginia LGBTQ community. They are now officially protected against discrimination based on sexual orientation and their gender identity.
“Trans people deserve to be protected just like everyone else,” says Christina Baisden, President of Beckley Pride.
The case claimed West Virginia’s Fifth Judicial Circuit denied Livingood a job he was qualified for.
The Circuit allegedly said he was not a protected class under West Virginia’s Human Rights Act, but the judge handling the case said otherwise.
The outcome of the case shows the progress the Mountain State is making when it comes to LGBTQ rights–another milestone after the Beckley Non-Discrimination Ordinance in 2019.
“There have been zero cases through the Human Rights Commission here in Beckley pertaining to the discrimination against any LGBTQ person,” Baisden says. “And that’s the thing I want people to understand, discrimination happens, it’s just these protections give LGBTQ people recourse.”
Despite the win in court, Beckley Pride President Christina Baisden says further changes are still necessary.
“These types of things shouldn’t be left up to interpretation through judges, they should be laid out word by word that these people are protected,” she says.
According to a recent study taken from a national LGBTQ advocacy group, West Virginia’s state laws are among the least protective in the country for gay and transgender people, but some lawmakers are now pushing for more LGBTQ protections.