In late February, Mid Vermont Christian School withdrew from the state basketball tournament once it was matched against Long Trail, an opponent with a transgender player.
A male who identifies as a female seeking to compete in women's sports has become a familiar story. Officials at Mid Vermont, which is located in Quechee, Vermont and enrolls 103 students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, decided to just say no, citing safety of Mid Vermont players and the integrity of the game.
"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 a prepared statement. "Allowing biological males to participate in women's sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women's sports in general."
After a forfeit win against MVCS, Long Trail lost three days later in the quarterfinal round.
Mid Vermont's decision produced more of a ripple than a wave of media coverage, but the story picked up steam mostly from news and sports talk shows when the Vermont Principals' Association, the state's governing body of high school sports, deemed MCVS ineligible for future activities.
Vermont Agency of Education policy states that "students should be permitted to participate in physical education and sports in accordance with the student's gender identity. Participation in competitive athletic activities will be resolved on a case-by-case basis."
The VPA cited that state policy in its decision to expel MCVS. There were no reported attempts to resolve the case in a different manner.
Agency of Education policy further states that "a transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student's gender identity." Any student dressing in a common area may request additional privacy, the policy adds. In that event, state policy suggests the school provide a stall with a door or curtain.
Thirty-four states have laws that require students to compete in sports based on their birth-assigned gender.
Fogg declined a request by American Family News for further comment. Two other Christian schools in Vermont also declined comment.
A commonsense move
Sports commentator Jake Crain, host of the Crain & Company podcast, a part of the conservative-leaning Daily Wire podcast group, calls Mid Vermont's decision to forfeit "common sense." (Caution: This linked podcast contains language that some may find offensive.)
"What makes our show unique, yes, sports and politics touch sometimes; and when they do touch, we're going to talk about it," Crain (right, center) said. "We don't reach out of our way like ESPN or these other mainstream sports media networks to degrade half the country and try and make everything look racist, sexist and horrible. We actually say what we think. I don't pigeonhole myself into believing everything just because I'm on a team."
In the case of Mid Vermont "the team that got suspended was the team in the right," Crain said.
Mid Vermont has appealed the decision by the Vermont Principal's Association. The group has not publicly stated it is hearing the appeal or when a final decision might come.
"Canceling our membership is not a solution and does nothing to deal with the very real issue of safety and fairness facing women's sports in our beloved state," Fogg wrote after the VPA's decision.
Earlier in February, leaders from Mid Vermont and United Christian Academy of Newport, Vermont sought an exemption from the Agency of Education that would allow the private schools to continue to receive state dollars.
Last year, Vermont implemented an anti-discrimination policy that private schools must follow if they want state money, according to VTDigger, a nonprofit news organization in Vermont. The state board withheld its approval.
Conservative media outlets Outkick and Rick & Bubba also had content that praised Mid Vermont's girls basketball team.
Support for MVCS also came from a news talk podcast that would not describe itself as conservative: The Breakfast Club, with host Charlamagne Tha God and others, is part of the iHeart podcast group which lists the ACLU and The Urban League among its many philanthropic efforts. The Breakfast Club has 5.32 million Youtube subscribers. (Caution: This linked podcast contains language that some may find offensive.)
Charlamagne said the MVCS decision to not play against Long Trail was "common sense. That person was probably out there averaging 30 and 20 against them women, man. That's not equality when somebody has a biological advantage against you. I don't dig it. I don't think it's fair."
Not everyone supports Mid Vermont.
Vermont State Senator Becca White (D) in an interview with CNN said she was "disappointed in the adults" who made the decision for the MVCS team. The decision by the VPA, she said, was not "a bridge too far" to ban MVCS teams in all sports. MVCS resides in White's district.
"The athletes we're talking about are unlikely to go on to elite professional athletics, but that concept of discriminating against another young person causes long-term outcomes for trans youth. They're hearing rhetoric that tells them they're not valuable, that in fact they're dangerous."
While Vermont is in the spotlight in America, some European athletics leaders are taking steps to preserve women's athletics for the birth-assigned gender. Lord Coe, the president of World Athletics, told the BBC last week that no transgender athlete who had gone through puberty would be allowed to compete in female world ranking competitions beginning March 31.
The BBC also reported that in 2022 FINA, the international governing body for swimming, announced it would stop transgender athletes from competing in women's elite races if they had gone through any part of the process of male puberty.
In the same year the British Triathlon became the first British sporting body to establish a new "open" category in which transgender athletes can compete, and the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union also banned transgender women from competing in their female-only events.
As far as the U.S., Crain called on leaders in women's athletics to be vocal in opposition to transgender males competing in their sport – "Where are Dawn Staley, Geno Auriemma or Diana Taurasi?" he asked – then closed his March 15 podcast by turning the tables on the discussion.
"Now I'll leave you with this. Protecting our female athletes from this male invasion isn't hate. It's true love, the purest form – not the love that dresses up and pretends to be hate, but true love," he stated.
"At some point, female athletes are going to have to start boycotting their events featuring actual males because outside of that, nobody's going to help you. For our true women out there, that's the saddest part."