Mid Vermont Christian School ousted from sports over transgender discrimination

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-13-2023 7:51 PM

QUECHEE — Mid Vermont Christian School has been banned from participating in sporting events in the wake of its decision to forfeit a girls’ basketball playoff game rather than play against a team with a transgender student-athlete.

The Vermont Principals’ Association, the governing body for high school sports in the state, wrote in a letter to MVCS on Monday that the Quechee school’s decision violated two VPA policies — on “commitment to racial, gender-fair, and disability awareness” and on “gender identity.” The decision was made following a meeting of the VPA’s Executive Council earlier Monday.

“The result was a determination that policies have been violated at the school level, thus there is an immediate determination of ineligibility for Mid Vermont Christian in VPA sanctioned activities and tournaments going forward,” the VPA wrote in a corresponding news release.

The Eagles’ girls basketball team, seeded 12th in the Division IV postseason, refused to play its first-round game at No. 5 seed Long Trail on Feb. 21 because of a transgender female player on the Mountain Lions’ roster. VPA policy provides students to participate in sports and other activities “in a manner consistent with their gender identity,” and “discrimination based on a student’s actual or perceived sex and gender” constitutes a violation of the policy.

MVCS’ ban is indefinite and will take effect immediately.

“We wanted to be thoughtful, and we wanted to make sure all of our stakeholders had an opportunity to provide comment,” VPA assistant executive director Lauren Thomas told the Valley News.

MVCS head of school Vicky Fogg wrote in an email to the Valley News on Feb. 22 that “we believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players.” The Long Trail girls played their full 20-game regular-season schedule without incident, and following the Eagles’ forfeit, the Mountain Lions fell to No. 4 seed Arlington in the quarterfinals.

The MVCS boys team went on to make its deepest playoff run in school history, overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat top-seeded Long Trail in the semifinals on March 6. Several of the Long Trail students wielded pride and transgender flags at that game. The Eagles then lost to Rivendell in the championship game on Saturday.

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In addition to basketball, MVCS has competed in the VPA in volleyball, golf, cross country and track and field, and also has fielded soccer teams that competed independently. Erva Barnes, MVCS’ athletic director and boys basketball coach, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

VPA executive director Jay Nichols told VTDigger on Monday that the executive board reached a unanimous 15-0 decision, and could not remember another instance of a school being ousted from the organization.

“If you don’t want to follow VPA rules, that’s fine,” Nichols said. “But then you’re just not a VPA member. It’s fairly simple.”

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

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