A Vermont Christian high school forfeited a girls basketball game because the opposing team had a transgender player, the head of school said.
Mid Vermont Christian School in Junction had been scheduled to play Long Trail School in Dorset on Feb. 21, but the game never happened.
Vicky Fogg, the head of Mid Vermont Christian School, said the team decided not to participate "because we believe playing against an opponent with a biological male jeopardizes the fairness of the game and the safety of our players."
Long Trail did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
There has been a heated debate for years over including transgender athletes. Some states, such as Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia and Texas, banned transgender youths from competing on sports teams that aligned with their gender identities. In Vermont, students are allowed to participate in “VPA activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity," according to the Vermont Principals’ Association, the state’s governing body for school sports.
In a letter dated Oct. 5, the association said supporting transgender athletes is "a core part of building an inclusive community for each student to grow and thrive."
Fogg said in her statement that she believes "allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general." Contacted Wednesday, the school declined to discuss the matter further.
Data shows that participating in sports can help LGBTQ+ youth increase their self-esteem and gives them a sense of belonging while decreasing feelings of "hopelessness and suicidality," according to GLSEN, an organization that fights LGBTQ+ discrimination.
Amanda Rohdenburg, the associate director of Outright Vermont, which advocates for LGBTQ+ youth, said the school's actions show that Vermont "is not immune to anti-trans hate."
"What we’re seeing in Vermont and around the country is a heightened and coordinated effort to stop trans youth from existing and thriving as people," Rohdenburg said in an emailed statement. "Our primary focus is to go where harm is done and to ensure that young people feel safe and seen. We want for the trans youth who is directly harmed and her family to know we are here for them. We also want all queer and trans youth in Vermont to know that we are here."