Christian school in Vermont sues over sports ban after refusing to play against transgender player in women’s basketball program
A Vermont Christian School is banned from state sports competition for refusing to allow its girl’s basketball team to play against a transgender player. The incident dates back to February 21 when the Mid Vermont Christian School in White River Junction, Vermont was scheduled to play against Long Trail Girls High School. The girl’s school had a biological male on their team, and Mid Vermont Christian School decided to forfeit. The Vermont Principals Association (VPA) took swift action against the Christian school saying the school violated its policies on gender identity in sports and therefore was removed from the association. VPA issued a statement back in February stating in part:
“The VPA is committed to providing all students with the opportunity to participate in VPA activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity as is outlined in the Vermont Agency of Education Best Practices For Schools For Transgender And Gender Nonconforming Students. Vermont’s Public Accommodations Act (9 V.S.A. 4502) and VPA policies prohibit discrimination and/or harassment of students on school property or at school functions by students or employees. The prohibition against discrimination includes discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender.”
Mid Vermont Christian files federal lawsuit
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Mid Vermont Christian School in a federal lawsuit filed earlier this week stating that Vermont has a history of discriminating against Christian schools and denying religious schools their 1st Amendment right.
“Vermont has an infamous record of discriminating against religious schools and families, whether it be withholding generally available public funding or denying them membership in the state’s sports league because they hold religious beliefs that differ from the state’s preferred views,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “The state’s unlawful exclusion of Mid Vermont Christian from participating in the tuition program and athletic association is the latest example of state officials trampling on constitutionally protected rights. And egregiously, Vermont continues its blatant discrimination against religious schools despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Carson v. Makin that the government cannot exclude families from public benefits just because they choose religious education for their children.”
VPA holds that the school violated the rules of their association and “commitment to Racial, Gender-Fair, and Disability Awareness and Policy of Gender Identity, respectively.”
“Specifically, the school’s actions do not meet the expectations of the VPA’s 1st and 2nd policy, Commitment to Racial, Gender-Fair, and Disability Awareness and Policy of Gender Identity, respectively. Thus, Mid-Vermont Christian School is ineligible to participate in VPA activities going forward. The prorated dues will be returned to you via check.”
In addition to sports, Mid Vermont Christian School students are now missing out on tuition reimbursement from the state, along with science and math competitions for their students.
Students out of academic competitions and tuition reimbursement
“The students who choose to attend Mid Vermont Christian are currently losing out on valuable tuition reimbursement and being excluded from playing competitive sports and participating in academic competitions, including the Goodwin and Slarve children, whom we represent in this case,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jake Reed. “Vermont, through its education agency and sports association, has engaged in unconstitutional discrimination by requiring a Christian school and its students to surrender their religious beliefs and practices in order to receive public funds and compete in sports.”
ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Mid Vermont Christian School v. Bouchey, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.