A Vermont girls’ basketball team has withdrawn from the state’s Division IV tournament over the inclusion of a biological male student-athlete on an opposing team.
The Mid Vermont Christian School team withdrew from the tournament ahead of their Tuesday night first-round game against No. 5 seed Long Trail School on Tuesday night, with the No. 12 seed team forfeiting their game to the Mountain Lions, according to the Valley News.
"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. "Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general."
In Vermont, sports are separated by gender identity, not biological sex.
Lauren Thomas, the assistant executive director for the Vermont Principals’ Association, which is the state’s governing body for school sports, told Valley News, "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."
"We just supported our stance and our best practices through our inclusivity statement," she said.
Earlier this year, Mid Vermont Christian School submitted a letter to the state Agency of Education requesting to receive public tuition funding while stating that as a religious-affiliated school, they could refrain from following laws that violate their religion.
"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."
In the event that 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."
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