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Vt. school banned from sporting events after refusal to face trans player

The head of Mid Vermont Christian School said competing against the transgender athlete would be unfair and unsafe for its players

Mid Vermont Christian School (Google Maps)
3 min

About three weeks ago, a Vermont high school girls’ basketball team forfeited a playoff game. The reason: The opposing team had a transgender player.

The head of Mid Vermont Christian School said participating would be unfair and unsafe for its players.

The Feb. 21 game was the final activity the state’s athletic association will invite the school to. The Vermont Principals’ Association wrote a letter Monday explaining that Mid Vermont Christian had violated the organization’s policies against gender discrimination.

“Mid-Vermont Christian school is ineligible to participate in VPA activities going forward,” the association’s executive council and staff wrote in the letter.

Vicky Fogg, Mid Vermont Christian’s head of school, said in a statement to The Washington Post that the small private school will appeal the decision.

“Canceling our membership is not a solution and does nothing to deal with the very real issue of safety and fairness facing women’s sports in our beloved state,” Fogg said in the statement. “We urge the VPA to reconsider its policies, and balance the rights of every athlete in the state.”

Mid Vermont Christian, which serves preschool through 12th-grade students in White River Junction, Vt., was scheduled to play Long Trail School on Feb. 21 in the VPA Division 4 tournament. Fogg said in a statement that the school forfeited the game because Long Trail has a transgender girl on the team.

Competing against a transgender player “jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players” and “sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general,” Fogg wrote.

Long Trail, a small private school in Dorset, Vt., advanced to the next round and lost. None of Long Trail’s other opponents complained about the transgender player, according to the Valley News. The school’s athletic director did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.

On Feb. 27, the VPA said in a statement that it supports transgender student-athletes.

“The prohibition against discrimination includes discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender,” the association said.

Regulations for transgender athletes have been hotly debated in recent years. In June, swimming’s world governing body made one of the most significant rulings by restricting transgender athletes from competing in top women’s events. Multiple states, including Alabama and Arkansas, have banned transgender athletes from participating in youth sports, while others have restricted their participation. In 2019, two high schools left a D.C.-area conference that permitted transgender athletes.

When the VPA’s executive council met Monday, all 15 members voted to bar Mid Vermont Christian from future play, the council’s executive director said in an email. While the school’s basketball teams have enjoyed success in recent years — the boys reached this year’s state final and the girls were co-champions in 2020 — they’ll need to find a new postseason tournament.

“The VPA again reiterates its ongoing support of transgender student-athletes as not only a part of building an inclusive community for each student to grow and thrive,” the VPA said in a statement, “but also as a clear expectation by Vermont state law(s).”

Dana Kaplan, the executive director for Outright Vermont, a nonprofit supporting LGBTQ youths, said he’s grateful the VPA set a precedent in support of transgender youths.

“They’re struggling to survive in a world that tells them that they shouldn’t get to exist; where a young person is going to play on their sports team, and suddenly they are told, ‘Actually, the game is canceled because this team refuses to play with you,’” Kaplan said. “No young person should have to shoulder that.”