Already under fire for banning female volleyball players from using their own locker room after speaking out against changing with a biological male, a Vermont school district has now suspended one of the players’ fathers – ostensibly for not using the transgender student’s preferred pronouns.
Travis Allen was suspended without pay as Randolph Union Middle School girls’ soccer coach, according to a report by the Daily Signal. The district superintendent reportedly wrote in a letter that Allen was being punished because he “misgendered a transgender student in our district.”
But Allen’s suspension follows closely on the heels of reports detailing the district’s treatment of his outspoken daughter and her high school volleyball teammates, after they objected to having the transgender student, a biological male, use the girls’ locker room while they were changing.
His daughter, Blake Allen, had previously told WCAX-TV the transgender student made an inappropriate comment as the volleyball team was changing in the locker room, which triggered an incident between the students.
After the incident, Blake and other members of the girls’ volleyball team objected to having a transgender teammate in the locker room while they were changing. Upon objecting, they were banned from using the girls’ locker room altogether and placed under investigation.
Vermont education policy allows for transgender students to play sports and use restrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their “gender identity.”
“The use of restrooms and locker rooms by transgender students requires schools to consider numerous factors,” the policy states. “A transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.”
The Daily Signal reports the latest issue started when Blake’s mother, Jessica Allen, told the transgender student’s guardian Melissa Sivvy in a Facebook comment that she would be “GLAD to have a conversation” on this matter.
Sivvy responded on Facebook, asking for “justice for whoever was wronged.” She also told the Daily Signal that her child is a “girl” and deserves to be in “girls’ spaces.”
Travis Allen then responded to Sivvy on Facebook, “I am the father of the girl you claim ‘made up a story for attention.’ The truth is your son watched my daughter and multiple other girls change in the locker room. While he got a free show, they got violated. You think this is fine and dandy. I wonder how you would feel if I watched you undress?”
Superintendent Layne Millington wrote in his letter that Allen told school officials he called the biologically male student a “he” on purpose.
“Such conduct is unprofessional and unbecoming, and flies in the face of the Vermont Principal Association’s athletic regulations, Vermont State regulations, and the RUHS Middle-High School expectations, Millington wrote.
The letter also states school officials have “significant concerns” about Allen’s ability to “support all of our students as the law requires.”
While Allen offered to avoid using gender pronouns while communicating with transgender students and to take down his social media post, the district demanded a public apology as well. When he refused, he was suspended.
The father of four told the Daily Signal he has coached his children for the past 12 years. This was his way of being involved and teaching them life lessons.
“It’s not just playing soccer,” Allen said. “We have to deal with other personal issues that come with the team as well – bad attitudes, kids being bossy, things like that.
“When he asked me to publicly apologize, I thought about it. I did pause and waited a few seconds. And I’m thinking, ‘If I say that I’ll apologize, I’ll be able to coach my youngest daughter for the rest of the season, but I’m going to, in turn, hurt my other daughter, because I’m not standing up for what we believe in, I’m just cowing to them like so many other people have done. And I just can’t do that.’”
Allen said he and his family weren’t standing up against this issue just for attention.
“We’re a family that pretty much goes with the flow,” he said. “And this time we just couldn’t do it.”
Jessica Allen told The Daily Signal last week: “I want all kids, all kids at RUHS to feel safe, all kids nationwide to feel safe in their spaces, where they need to change or are supposed to be private spaces. We have to get creative as a nation to really figure out how to keep everybody safe, and everyone working together. The hate really does need to stop, because that’s not what this is about. … Let’s have an open dialogue about how to keep everybody safe and feeling comfortable, because we’ve taught children to protect their bodies.”