Tuesday, March 5, 2024

VT Snowboard Coach Reaches Settlement in Free Speech vs. Trans Sports Case

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The Vermont high school snowboarding coach allegedly fired for stating that males are biologically different than females has reached a settlement, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

David Bloch, the former snowboarding coach at Woodstock Union High School, recently filed an appeal in federal court after a federal district judge denied his request for reinstatement. 

Last week, Bloch, through his attorneys with the ADF, filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to require the Windsor Central Supervisory Union School Board to reinstate him to his job. 

But in a statement confirmed to CBN News, Block agreed to a full settlement of the case just a day later. 

“Public schools can’t fire employees for respectful speech on a matter of public concern,” ADF Legal Counsel Matthew Hoffman told CBN News in a statement following the settlement.

“Dave, like every other person, is protected under the First Amendment to respectfully share his personal beliefs, and the Vermont Agency of Education even acknowledged that Dave simply sharing his perspective did not violate policy or Vermont law,” he added. 

As CBN News reported, Bloch founded the snowboarding team at Woodstock Union High School in 2011 and has served as head coach ever since. He told the Daily Signal that the job, which only paid $4,439 per season, was his passion.

“I think it’s so incredible to watch the progress,” Bloch said, adding he loves to see his students “sit on top of a giant slalom course for the first time, and you can see the fear in their eyes, and then by the time they make it down, it’s like I wrote them a check for a million dollars.”

Last February, Bloch and his team were waiting for a snowboarding competition to start. They were set to compete against a team that had a student who was biologically male, but identified as female. 

Bloch, a practicing Roman Catholic, told two of his athletes there are biological differences between men and women and that males do have a competitive advantage against females in sports. 

The next day, the Windsor Central Supervisory Union superintendent called Bloch into her office and fired him for allegedly violating Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board’s Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying policy and the Vermont Principals’ Association’s related policy for “making 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 WUHS snowboard team”—all outside the student’s presence.

“I was just shocked that I could be fired for literally speaking biological fact,” Bloch said.

The superintendent acknowledged that Bloch was being fired before the investigation into the incident was complete. 

The ADF filed a federal lawsuit in July against state and school officials on Bloch’s behalf requesting he be reinstated. 

They contend Bloch was engaging in constitutionally protected speech and the school district unlawfully terminated him for his viewpoint without proper procedural protections.

“This case isn’t about the real harms bullying and sexual harassment pose in schools. It’s not about participation in sports” but rather it’s about “preserving dialogue on an issue of paramount public importance” Bloch’s lawyers at the ADF said in a Sept. 14 filing.

U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss denied Bloch’s request.

“The school district says that this conversation Coach Bloch had, which was respectful among all parties, harassed the student based on gender identity for a student that wasn’t even present for the conversation at all,” Hoffman told the Daily Signal last October. 

He added, “And so that’s extremely problematic under the First Amendment because what is clear is that we all have the freedom to discuss important matters of public concern and we don’t lose that sacrifice when we become coaches, and the First Amendment certainly protects that right against overbroad policies that censor speech, like the ones of issue in this case.”

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