A Vermont basketball team pushes back on transgender students in sports

March 15 – When the Mid Vermont Christian School girls’ basketball team forfeited the state tournament in February because they refused to play against a team with a transgender girl (a genetic boy who identifies as a girl), a lot of people thought it was quite a stand in the trans athlete debate. 

The team cited safety and fairness reasons for their refusal to participate. 

Now, however, the Vermont Principals Association has cut the group out of any tournament. The Mid Vermont Christian School girls’ basketball team will be ineligible for any future tournaments. 

The decision was allegedly made with feedback from members, other committees and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Activities Committee. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “I just want to remind people, when did we ever have a national conversation or any way to understand what this is and why it is and if it’s true? We haven’t. Gender fluidity is a belief system. Period. End of sentence. There’s a lot of activists involved in our medical, psychological and academic community now, but why their belief system gets to trump everybody else’s is beyond me. To me this is an obvious lawsuit, not based on violating the Christian school’s belief system, but based on forcing a belief system onto everybody.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “This case is interesting at a lot of levels because it was the governing body of the Vermont Athletic Association that oversees high school athletics that banned this school from further participation in these tournaments. At what point does a court need to step in and say enough is enough of this? If this was a girls’ tournament and let’s say this was a boy, a male basketball star on the other team and on the day of the tournament he says I feel like a girl today I’m going to go play for the girls’ team. I don’t blame this other team for withdrawing on terms of saying, look this is not fair. We’re not going to participate in a tournament where this kind of a dynamic is going on.” 

If this doesn’t get addressed from a policy standpoint, could a school exploit this situation? 

Jansen said, “When are we going to push back? You might as well say the scientology activities group decided and made this decision. It is a belief system. We’ve never had a debate about this in this country. We’re just all saying, oh you have to accept this now. I don’t understand why we don’t have the constitutionality of this challenged at the legal level. I think this is a case that could make it to the Supreme Court.” 

Barkdoll said, “I think this case will go into court. I think there does need to be some policy debate about this, whether it’s at the state level, the federal level. I know there are some states in a piecemeal fashion that have addressed this. Some have even done it through executive action. We’re seeing more and more of these kind of situations come up around the US. They’re still rare, but I think you’re seeing more of them than certainly we did even a year or two ago. My concern would be could you get a situation where a school, a coach just wants to game the system? They are exploiting this loophole where they could gain great competitive advantages by using these kind of methods like that happened in Vermont.”