The Vermont girls high school basketball team that forfeited out of a tournament in February after refusing to play against a team with a transgender player has been declared ineligible to participate in future tournaments, the Vermont Principals' Association announced this week. The ban will apply to all sports.
"With feedback from membership at large, our Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Activities Committee, and our Activity Standards Committee, The VPA's Executive Council met today, March 13th, 2023 to discuss the relevant forfeiture," reads a statement from the VPA. "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."
Mid Vermont Christian School forfeited out of the Vermont Division IV girls basketball state tournament after refusing to play against Long Trail School on Feb. 21 in the first round. Long Trail has a transgender player on its roster, but according to Valley News, MVCS was the only opponent to have an issue with that all season.
In a statement, MVCS head of school Vicky Fogg explained that the reason for the forfeit was her school did not think it was fair to have the girls team play against an opponent with a biological male because it "jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players."
After the meeting on March 13, the VPA sent the school a letter to the school saying that forfeit and the rationality behind it "violates VPA Policies which are aligned with Vermont state law."
"Specifically, the school's actions do not meet the expectations of the VPA's 1st and 2nd policy, Commitment to Racial, Gender-Fair, and Disability Awareness and Policy of Gender Identity, respectively" reads the letter. "Thus, Mid-Vermont Christian school is ineligible to participate in VPA activities going forward. The prorated dues will be returned to you via check."
As of 2022, Vermont private schools are expected to follow the state's anti-discrimination rules if they want state funding. Earlier this year, MVCS and another religiously affiliated school told the Vermont Board of Education that they wanted to reserve the right not to follow all of the anti-discrimination laws due to their religious beliefs.