Vermont school district settles lawsuit over coach’s suspension related to trans athlete
Jun 5, 2023, 1:00 PM
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont school district will reinstate a middle school soccer coach who was suspended for misgendering a transgender female athlete, and will delete any reference to bullying investigations from his daughter’s school record, under the settlement of a lawsuit that will also pay them $125,000.
Travis Allen, the middle school girls’ soccer coach at the Randolph Union Middle/High School, and his daughter Blake Allen, who was also suspended, sued the Orange Southwest School District, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated.
The lawsuit, located along with the settlement details in online court records, claims that both were punished for expressing their views on whether the transgender student should be permitted to use the girls’ locker room “regardless of the discomfort experienced by girls in that room.”
The transgender student, who was on the same volleyball team as Blake Allen, entered the girls’ locker room while the athletes were changing on Sept. 21, 2022, and multiple girls, including Blake, became upset, the lawsuit stated.
Travis Allen was suspended without pay for the rest of the season on Oct. 18, 2022, for misgendering the student in a Facebook post, according to the lawsuit. Blake was suspended for several days based on comments she made about the situation to a few students in a class, according to the lawsuit. School officials found her comments constituted “harassment on the basis of gender identity,” the lawsuit states.
The Vermont School Board’s Insurance Trust will pay $125,000 in damages and legal costs to the family’s attorneys, Alliance Defending Freedom.
The Orange Southwest School District also has agreed to delete from Blake’s school records any reference to investigations of her for alleged harassment, hazing and bullying.
The settlement was reached in April and the lawsuit was dismissed on May 23.