A Christian high school in Vermont forfeited it participation in a girls’ basketball tournament because it didn’t want to compete against another team’s transgender player.
Mid Vermont Christian School (MVCS) would have faced set Long Trail School, an independent college-preparatory school in Vermont, in a Division IV state tournament match set for February 21.
However, MVCS forfeited over a trans player on Long Trail’s roster, CNN reported. It’s unclear whether the school’s decision came from the players, coaches, or administrators.
Regardless, MVCS Head of School Vicky Fogg said, “We withdrew from the tournament because we believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players. Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general.”
Most high school basketball teams have anywhere from 13 to 20 total players, with only five players from each team allowed on the court at a time. As such, MVCS’s players would’ve mostly competed against cisgender opponents.
Thus far, 18 U.S. states have passed laws banning transgender girls from competing on school sports teams matching their gender identities — Vermont is not one of those states. In fact, the policies of the Vermont Agency of Education, the state agency overseeing schools, explicitly forbid “discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender,” The Bennington Banner reports.
Lauren Thomas, assistant executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, said that MVCS’s refusal to play marks the first time that a school in the state has ever withdrawn from a game over trans inclusion.
“We have transgender athletes in various sports, not just basketball, not just in team sports,” Thomas said. “We have individuals. So we have students that are participating as they are.”
Earlier this year, MVCS Vermont Christian School sent a letter to the Agency of Education asking to continue receiving public taxpayer funds while being allowed to violate Vermont’s anti-discrimination laws.
“As a religious organization, the school has a statutory and constitutional right to make decisions based on its religious beliefs, including hiring and disciplining employees, associating with others, and in its admissions, conduct and operations policies and procedures,” Fogg wrote in the January 5 letter, cited by the VT Digger.
While requesting state funds, the school said it would neither affirm the Vermont Public Accommodations Act’s non-discrimination protections for same-sex marriages and sexual orientation nor instruct its school members to abide by them.