MVCS girls basketball forfeits playoff game rather than compete against team with transgender player

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-25-2023 11:06 PM

The Mid Vermont Christian School girls basketball team withdrew from the Vermont Division IV state tournament because of a refusal to play against an opponent with a transgender student-athlete.

The No. 12 seed Eagles were scheduled to play a first-round game at No. 5 seed Long Trail on Tuesday night, but their withdrawal forfeited the game to the Mountain Lions.

“We believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players,” MVCS head of school Vicky Fogg wrote in an email to the Valley News on Wednesday evening. “Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general.”

Fogg declined a request for an interview.

Lauren Thomas, the assistant executive director for the Vermont Principals’ Association, said MVCS sent her a letter stating that it would not be entering the tournament but did not elaborate on its decision.

Long Trail athletic director John Schneble did not respond to requests for comment. The Mountain Lions played their full 20-game regular-season schedule without any issues, finishing 14-6 with 11 wins in their last 12 games. The Eagles’ forfeit sent Long Trail to the quarterfinals Friday against No. 4 seed Arlington.

Vermont law allows transgender female students to play on girls’ sports teams. Among the goals of the VPA’s Activities Standards Committee is to provide “proactive talk tracks for transgender athletes.”

“I have received calls (from schools) asking for best practices and how to go forward knowing they were going to play a team with a transgender female on it,” Thomas said. “We just supported our stance and our best practices through our inclusivity statement.”

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Earlier this year, Mid Vermont Christian School submitted a letter to the state Agency of Education seeking permission to receive public tuition funding while also asserting that it reserved the right not to follow all of 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 Jan. 5 letter. “By signing this form, the Mid Vermont Christian School does not waive any such rights.” To the extent state laws conflict with the school’s beliefs, “including on marriage and sexuality, the school has not included that language in its handbook or online, nor can it affirm that particular aspect of the Vermont Public Accommodations Act.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.

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