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Christian School Sues Over Sports Ban for Refusing to Play Transgender Athlete

By CM Chaney · November 22, 2023

In brief…

  • ADF filed lawsuit for Christian school barred from tournaments over transgender athlete policy
  • School forfeited girls basketball game against team with biological male player
  • Suit alleges "unconstitutional religious discrimination" by Vermont officials
  • Argues school unfairly denied sports participation over gender identity beliefs
  • Coach says "no one should have opportunities taken away" over faith
The Alliance Defending Freedom has sued Vermont education officials on behalf of a Christian school that lost sports eligibility for declining to affirm the gender identity of a biological male student athlete.  Richard Bagan / Unsplash

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has filed a lawsuit against Vermont officials on behalf of a Christian school barred from sports tournaments for declining to compete against a transgender athlete.

Mid Vermont Christian School (MVCS) forfeited a February girls basketball game against a team that included a biological male player. Shortly after, the school was kicked out of the Vermont Principal’s Association (VPA) and denied participation in future tournaments.

The ADF lawsuit alleges “unconstitutional religious discrimination and hostility” by the state. It argues MVCS and its students are “being irreparably harmed by being denied participation” in sports and academic events.

According to the complaint, the school was punished “all because the School believes biological boys are boys and cannot affirm otherwise.” MVCS operates athletic programs “consistent with its religious beliefs about sexuality and gender.”

“The State is entitled to its own views, but it is not entitled, nor is it constitutional, to force private, religious schools across the state to follow that orthodoxy as a condition to participating in Vermont’s tuitioning program and the State’s athletic association,” reads the lawsuit.

“No one, including our student-athletes, should have opportunities taken away from them because of their religious beliefs,” MVCS girls basketball coach Chris Goodwin said.

“Vermont has repeatedly discriminated against Christian schools and their families for following their religious beliefs,” ADF lawyer Ryan Tucker stated. “Put simply, Mid Vermont Christian School believes that boys are boys and girls are girls. They have been punished for this belief.”

The VPA, Vermont Agency of Education, and Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union did not respond to requests for comment on the litigation.