A Christian school in Vermont has filed a federal lawsuit against the state, alleging religious discrimination after being barred from both state tournaments and a state tuition program. Mid Vermont Christian School in Hartford claims that the Vermont Agency of Education denied them participation in the Town Tuitioning and Dual Enrollment Programs due to their religious beliefs.
According to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Burlington, the school and its students are being “irreparably harmed” by the state’s actions. The complaint states that the school is facing “unconstitutional religious discrimination and hostility.” The school is seeking protection from this discrimination, stating that they are being denied participation in middle and high school athletics as well as the tuition program.
The incident that sparked the lawsuit occurred back in February when the school’s girls basketball team forfeited a game against Long Trail High School over a trans-identifying male player on the opposing team. The school claimed that the fairness of the game and the safety of their players were at risk. As a result, the opposing team automatically won the game.
The Vermont Principals’ Association, the governing body for school sports, then banned the Christian school from future tournaments. They ruled that the actions of the school had violated their policies on race, gender, and disability awareness.
Mid Vermont Christian School believes that boys are boys and girls are girls. And because of this, they’ve lost state funding and been shut out from competing in state athletics.
This should never be the result of believing in biological reality.https://t.co/UAnRdrbpUF
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) November 28, 2023
Meanwhile, the Vermont State Board of Education requires independent schools to provide a nondiscrimination statement and post it on their websites. If a school is not approved by the board, they are not allowed to participate in the state’s town tuition program, which provides funding for private school tuition for students in areas without a public school.
The school argues that the state is violating their constitutional rights by forcing them to follow the state’s views on gender identity and transgenderism in order to participate in these programs. They state that their beliefs do not align with the state’s views and they should not be punished for it.
The coach of the school’s girls basketball team, who has been coaching for 10 years, stated that he could not imagine telling his daughter she could not play sports because of her religious beliefs. He believes that no one, including student athletes, should have opportunities taken away because of their religious beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing the school in their lawsuit. ADF senior counsel Ryan Tucker stated that Vermont has repeatedly discriminated against Christian schools and their families for following their religious beliefs. He believes that schools and parents should not have to change their beliefs to participate in state programs.
The school’s lawsuit has sparked a debate about religious discrimination and freedom of choice in the state of Vermont. It remains to be seen how the case will be resolved and if changes will be made to the state’s policies on nondiscrimination.