Separating school restrooms and locker rooms by sex used to be a given. It is an obvious way to respect everyone's privacy and promote safety, especially for women and girls.
But now, with the rise of radical gender ideology, some schools are attempting to erase the distinctions between male and female—and punishing those who dissent.
This was the experience of Travis and Blake Allen, a father and daughter who spoke out against a school policy that allowed a male student (who identifies as female) to change in the girls’ locker room while the girls’ volleyball team was also changing.
When Blake, a freshman and member of the volleyball team, expressed her opinion, she was suspended from school. And when her father Travis voiced his concerns, he was suspended from his coaching position on the middle school girls’ soccer team.
Let’s look at how all this unfolded.
Who are Travis and Blake Allen?
Travis Allen and Blake Allen are father and daughter. Travis and his family have lived in Randolph Center, Vermont, since 2017, and their four children, including Blake, attend public schools in the Orange Southwest School District (OSSD). Blake and two of her siblings currently attend Randolph Union High School (RUHS). Blake is in ninth grade.
Over the past five years, Travis and his wife have been heavily involved in OSSD and RUHS sports and other activities. At various times, Travis coached the RUHS middle school boys’ basketball team, the RUHS varsity boys’ baseball team, and the RUHS junior varsity girls’ basketball team. For the past two years—until he was suspended—Travis also served as the RUHS middle school girls’ soccer coach.
Like her parents, 14-year-old Blake is active in school sports. She plays RUHS volleyball and softball and participated in middle school gymnastics.
In the 2022-23 school year, a male student who identifies as female joined the RUHS girls’ volleyball team. The school provided no notice to the members of the team or their parents that the student would be permitted to use the girls’ locker room, and the student had not entered the girls’ locker room before while the volleyball team had been present.
In September, before leaving for an away game, many members of the team went to the only RUHS girls’ locker room to change into their sportswear and uniforms. As they were changing, the male student entered, and immediately, Blake and other girls asked him to leave.
The student instead went into the separately partitioned shower and toilet area. The male student then looked out from behind the partition to ask whether the girls were still changing. Even after being motioned by Blake to go back behind the partition, the student continued to look at the girls who were still changing.
This experience upset Blake and her teammates. Blake called her mother, who, along with other parents, complained to the school about the incident. The school dismissed their concerns, hiding behind a misrepresentation of Vermont law that supposedly forced them to allow the male student to change with the other girls.
The next day, in French class, Blake was discussing this incident with some classmates. During that conversation, she expressed her views that the male student “literally is a dude” and that “he does not belong in the girls’ locker room.” For those comments, RUHS opened a harassment, hazing and bullying (HHB) investigation of Blake for “misgendering” the student.
After this story had gone public and the mother of the male student claimed on social media that Blake had “made up the story for attention,” Travis responded.
He posted on his private social media account that he was “the father of the girl you claim 'made up a story for attention.’” He wrote, “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.” For these comments, Travis was suspended without pay from his job as the middle school girls’ soccer coach.
When RUHS completed its HHB investigation in mid-October, it said that Blake had violated the policy and suspended her for two days. The punishment also included writing a “reflective essay” and “tak[ing] part in a restorative circle,” with the school being the one to judge whether Blake had been sincere and had done enough. Failure to comply would have resulted in an additional three days’ suspension.
After Alliance Defending Freedom sued, the school dropped Blake’s suspension and this other discipline. The school also clarified that Travis was suspended only for the remaining days of the fall soccer season.
After Alliance Defending Freedom sued, the school dropped Blake’s suspension and this other discipline.
Months later, the school district agreed to a settlement in which it agreed to reinstate Travis to his position as soccer coach, clear Travis’s and Blake’s records, and pay $125,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.
- September 2022: A male identifying as a female entered the girls’ locker room while Blake and other girls were changing for a volleyball game. This upset many of the girls, leading their parents to complain about the presence of the male student. Blake and Travis made comments about the incident in the following days.
- October 2022: Both Blake and Travis were punished for expressing their views and concerns. ADF then filed a lawsuit on their behalf for viewpoint discrimination and violations of their First Amendment rights to free speech. Shortly after filing the lawsuit, counsel for the school officials notified ADF attorneys that the superintendent was rescinding the disciplinary actions against Blake.
- June 2023: The school agreed to a settlement in which it agreed to pay $125,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.
The bottom line
No one should lose their job or be suspended from school for voicing their opinion or calling a male a male.