Girls basketball coach speaks out after forfeiting game against team with trans player

Unsplash/Markus Spiske
Unsplash/Markus Spiske

The coach of a Vermont high school basketball team banned from competing in future tournaments after forfeiting a game against a trans-identified player has spoken out publicly, declaring it "irresponsible" to allow boys to compete against girls, contending that this is "asking for an injury" to a female player.

Chris Goodwin is the coach of the girls team at the Mid-Vermont Christian School and is also the father of four girls. The school filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont last year, claiming that it is being excluded from participating in a state tuition program and school athletics because of its religious beliefs regarding LGBT issues.  

During a Monday Fox & Friends interview, Goodwin and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Ryan Tucker discussed the school's expulsion from the Vermont Principals' Association, which controls participation in school sports. The school forfeited a February 2023 basketball game against the Long Trail Mountain Lions, citing concerns about the trans-identified athlete on the opposing team having a biological advantage over the female ball players. 

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"I've got four daughters. I've coached them all at one point in their careers playing high school basketball," the coach said during the interview. "I've also filled in for the boy's coach when he can't make a practice, and I run those practices, and boys just play at a different speed, a different force … than the girls play." 

Goodwin said it is a "different game" when boys play, adding that it is "irresponsible" to have them compete against girls, warning that this is "asking for an injury."

The attorney for the conservative legal advocacy group accused the state of Vermont of attempting to "purge" people like Goodwin and prevent them from speaking out. Tucker claimed that the state is refusing to consider "the biological reality" of having males compete against females.

The Vermont Principals' Association did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.

The coach said that before the February 2023 game, other coaches informed him that a trans-identified biological male was playing for a team in their division. 

"The team was not on our schedule during the year but we did see we might have the possibility of playing them in the playoffs," he said. "As the season came to an end, that is the scenario that worked itself out. After discussions with our administration and players and parents, we decided that instead of going against our religious beliefs, ... we decided to forfeit that game and withdraw from the tournament." 

The Mid-Vermont Christian School justified its refusal to play against the trans athlete by pointing out the unfair biological advantage males, on average, have over females.

In a February 2023 statement, Vicky Fogg, the head of the Christian school, said that playing against a male opponent "jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players." 

The school and several families filed a lawsuit in November, alleging that state educational authorities were discriminating against the school because it abides by religious teachings on gender and sexuality.

In a November statement to CNN, the VPA stated in response to the complaint that the Christian school has the right to share its faith with its students. 

"It cannot, however, impose those beliefs on students from other public and private schools; deny students from other schools the opportunity to play; or hurt students from other schools because of who those students are," the VPA said in its defense.

The VPA policy guidelines state that it is "committed to providing all students with the opportunity to participate in VPA activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity." According to the policies, if a student identifies as nonbinary, then that student should have the option to participate in a "nonbinary division and record their scores as nonbinary." 

Last year, a male athlete who identifies as a female who broke an opponent's knee quit a woman's soccer team and announced that he was considering legal action. Francesca Needham, 30, resigned from the Rossington Main Ladies, a soccer team in South Yorkshire, after opposing teams refused to play against him following the incident. 

Needham played two games on the women's team in October after receiving clearance from the Football Association, scoring two goals, as The Daily Mail reported at the time. An unnamed manager for one of the opposing teams claimed that the association did not inform others that Needham was a man. 

"People have refused to play because they are worried about the safety of the players," the manager said. "My players were backing out of challenges as psychologically it's quite a big thing. When you are playing against a biological man, it's quite scary. They were terrified."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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