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Christian School Gets Banned by State after Forfeiting Game against Trans Player

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Feb 27, 2024
Christian School Gets Banned by State after Forfeiting Game against Trans Player

Christian School Gets Banned by State after Forfeiting Game against Trans Player

The head coach at a private Christian school in Vermont is speaking out after the state booted his girls’ basketball team from state-sponsored tournaments because the school refused to participate in a girls’ sports competition with a biological male.

The controversy started in the 2022-23 school year when Mid Vermont Christian School withdrew from the first round of the girls’ basketball tournament instead of playing against a team that had a biological boy who identified as a girl. That player, according to court documents, is at least six feet tall and taller than any player on the Mid Vermont Christian and can be seen in footage from other games “repeatedly blocking girls' shots, throwing elbows, and knocking girls down.” Mid-Vermont Christian said it was concerned for its players’ safety.

The Vermont Principals’ Association, which runs the tournament and the state’s athletic competitions, responded by booting Mid Vermont Christian School from all state-sponsored sporting events and from the association. 

Mid Vermont Christian School then sued the Vermont Principals’ Association in federal court, claiming religious discrimination. The school also alleged the association was violating its own fairness policy. The school had played in the association for 28 years. 

Chris Goodwin, coach of the girls' team, told Fox News that the issue is about safety.

“I've got four daughters. I've coached them all at one point in their careers playing high school basketball. I've also filled in for the boy's coach when he can't do a practice, and I've run those practices -- and boys just play at a different speed, a different force, then the girls play,” Goodwin said. “It's a different game. So I would never bring my girls to a boy's practice or have the boys come into our practice and say to them, ‘Hey, we're going to scrimmage today; we're gonna go game speed.’ Because it is just asking for an injury, and it'd be irresponsible on my part to put my girls and my daughter on the court to play against male athletes.”

Goodwin said he does not regret the school’s decision. 

“After discussions with the administration and our players and parents, we decided that instead of going against our religious beliefs that -- there are differences between male and female and we are created differently -- we decided to forfeit that game and withdraw from the tournament. And at that point, the state of Vermont governing body kicked us out of all athletic competitions in the state.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the school. 

“The State of Vermont has adopted its own orthodoxy on human sexuality and gender,” the lawsuit says. “Simply put, the State believes sex is mutable and biological differences do not matter. 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 … the State's athletic association.”

Mid Vermont Christian School believes “God uniquely creates each person as either a male or female, one's sex is determined at creation and based on biology, and that sex is immutable,” the suit says. 

“This civil rights action,” the suit says, “seeks to protect a Christian school and its students and parents from unconstitutional religious discrimination and hostility.”

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Wavebreakmedia

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Christian School Gets Banned by State after Forfeiting Game against Trans Player