A girls basketball team has withdrawn from the Vermont Division IV state tournament after refusing to compete against a team with trans-identified male player.
The Mid Vermont Christian School Eagles (MVCS) forfeited their playoff game against the Long Trail School Mountain Lions (LTS) after learning that LTS star player Rose Johnson is male.
In an email sent to the Vermont Valley News, MVCS head of school Vicky Fogg wrote: “We believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players. Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general.”
Long Trail School is a private prep school located in Dorset, Vermont. Johnson, who stands 6’1, is the tallest member of their basketball team and a standout when it comes to blocking shots, according to Mountain Lions coach Courtney Stasny. In an interview conducted earlier this month, Stasny boasted about Johnson’s athletic prowess.
“Rose brings such a great energy to the floor. We nicknamed her Rose ‘not in my house’ Johnson because she just does not let anything come through the lane,” Stasny said.
In a game against Proctor High School, Johnson blocked six shots while also scoring six points. Proctor player Aubrey Lanning lamented after their 47- 43 loss to LTS, saying: “Rose guards the whole post.”
Professional coach and fitness expert Aaron Warner objected to Johnson’s participation in girls’ basketball in the Vermont Daily Chronicle: “In one game [Johnson] had seven blocked shots. That means seven shots, typically closer to the basket so much more likely to go in, were blocked by the guy who is taller than every other girl on the floor, can jump higher and likely is significantly stronger. In what world is this even remotely fair to other Vermont Division IV girls?”
Warner cautioned that there is a greater chance of injury to female players when they compete against males: “Bone mass, lean mass, cardiac output, strength capacity, work capacity and kinesiological potential all heavily advantage males. This is why men’s competition records (i.e. sprinting, jumping, weight lifting) dwarf women’s…Add to this fact that men are larger, faster and stronger than women and the potential for males injuring girls increases dramatically in competition.”
In October, a North Carolina school district voted to forfeit all girls volleyball games against a rival school that featured a trans-identifying male player over safety concerns after he injured a girl on an opposing team with a forcefully-spiked ball to the face. Video that went viral showed the girl collapsing to the ground after being hit with the ball. She reportedly suffered head and neck injuries and long-term concussion symptoms.
Vermont state law includes “gender identity” along with “sex” as a protected characteristic which can not be discriminated against by places of public accommodation in regard to their “accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges.”
The Vermont Agency of Education’s Best Practices for Schools Regarding Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students policy states: “Generally, students should be permitted to participate in physical education and sports in accordance with the student’s gender identity. Participation in competitive athletic activities and sports will be resolved on a case-by-case basis.” The policy also addresses the use of locker rooms, stating that transgender players should be allowed to use the locker room of their choosing based on their self-declared gender identity.
Lauren Thomas, assistant executive director for the Vermont Principals Association, said “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.”
Due to the forfeiture by MVCS, Long Trail School will move directly to the quarterfinals in the state tournament.
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