The coach intervened in a discussion between two of his student-athletes who were debating the appropriateness of allowing transgender males to compete in women’s sports.
A Vermont public school snowboarding coach was fired for “harassment” after telling two of his students that “only two sexes” exist, according to a lawsuit filed on July 17.
The lawsuit makes claims for alleged violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and seeks the coach’s reinstatement and an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the challenged harassment policy against individuals
[E]xpressing views on differences in and the immutability of sex and the appropriateness of a teenage male competing against teenage females in an athletic competition, and in so doing to refer to a male as a male.
The suit alleges Coach David Bloch, a Catholic, was fired after intervening in a conversation between two of his students at a snowboarding event where another team included a transgender male competitor who competes against women.
The complaint details the conversation between the two students, one male and one female, who were debating the appropriateness of transgender males competing in women’s sports. The male student “expressed his opinion that males competing against females was unfair based on differences in biology,” an opinion the female student deemed “transphobic.”
“At that point, Coach Bloch joined the conversation,” according to the complaint.
When Bloch spoke to the students, he “recognized that people express themselves in different ways and that there can be masculine women and feminine men” but “also asserted that as a matter of biology, males and females have different DNA.”
These genetic differences, Bloch told his students, lead to physical differences that “generally give males competitive advantages in athletic competitions.” The complaint alleges Bloch spoke on the subject generally and “[a]t no point in the conversation did Coach Bloch refer to the transgender-identifying snowboarder” on the other team.
The transgender male competitor was not present at this conversation, the snowboarding event concluded without incident, and Bloch’s team traveled home on the same bus as the transgender male competitor without incident, according to the complaint.
The day after this exchange, the school district’s superintendent allegedly “summoned Coach Bloch to her office” and “handed him a notice of termination, while admitting that the investigation into Coach Bloch’s conversation was not complete”:
The notice accused Coach Bloch of violating Defendant Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board’s Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying (HHB) policy and the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) related policy for “ma[king] reference to [a] student in a manner that questioned the legitimacy and appropriateness of the student competing on the girls’ team to members of the [Woodstock Union High School] snowboard team” all outside the student’s presence.
A purported copy of the letter informed Bloch that his “use of disparaging names created an objectively offensive environment and constituted harassment based on gender identity, justifying terminating [his] contract as a snowboarding coach,” and informed Bloch that he “will not be considered for any future coaching positions.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) brought the suit on behalf of Bloch, who “founded the snowboarding team” and “has served as head coach for the entire life of the program.”
“The First Amendment ensures Dave, and every other American, can freely express his views on a matter of profound public concern without government punishment,” according to ADF Counsel Mathew Hoffman in a press release from the group.
The defendants allegedly failed, prior to terminating Bloch, to inform “him of the allegations against him, of any investigation into those allegations, of their HHB policy and procedures, or of his confidentiality rights” and allegedly failed to inform him “of his right to appeal their termination decision.”
“Coach Bloch never received a copy of any complaint against him,” Hoffman told Legal Insurrection, “nor did the Superintendent identify any allegedly ‘disparaging names.’ Coach Bloch never disparaged any student, but merely stated the truth: that males and females are different.”
The lawsuit names as defendants in their official capacities the Interim Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Education, the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, the Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board, and the Superintendent of the Windsor Central Supervisory Union. The Superintendent is also named in her individual capacity.DONATE
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