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VT school district fires snowboarding coach for stating biological fact

ADF attorneys available for media interviews following hearing Monday
Related Case:
Snowboarding coach David Bloch headshot in white polo

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing in Bloch v. Bouchey

WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. EDT, Monday, Sept. 25

WHERE: U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, 11 Elmwood Ave., Burlington, Courtroom 510. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Hayden Sledge at (205) 767-4705.

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a snowboarding coach challenging Vermont state and school officials will be available for media interviews following oral arguments Monday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in Burlington. David Bloch filed suit in July after the superintendent fired him for respectfully expressing his view that males are biologically different than females and that those differences generally give males an advantage in sports.

Bloch founded the snowboarding team at Woodstock Union High School in 2011 and has served as head coach every year since. Under his leadership, the program has had success both on and off the slopes, including a number of individual state champions. Bloch is a practicing Roman Catholic who believes that God created males and females with immutable sex, and that, based on scientific evidence, there are only two sexes, male and female and that sex is determined by a person’s chromosomes. But for sharing those views, school officials terminated his employment and barred him from future jobs in the school district.

“For more than a decade, Coach Bloch led the Woodstock Union snowboarding program to enormous success in terms of both athletic accomplishment and personal growth of the snowboarders. But for merely expressing his views that males and females are biologically different and questioning the appropriateness of a teenage male competing against teenage females in an athletic competition, school district officials unconstitutionally fired him,” said ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann, who will be arguing in court on behalf of Bloch. “The First Amendment ensures Coach Bloch, and every other American, can freely express his views on a matter of profound public concern without government punishment. We urge the court to swiftly rule that officials must reinstate Coach Bloch as snowboarding coach and that district and Vermont officials cannot enforce unconstitutional ‘harassment’ policies against public employees.”

In February, Bloch and his team were waiting in the lodge for a competition to start. That day, Bloch’s team was set to compete against a team that had a male snowboarder who identifies as a female and competes against females. During downtime in the lodge, Bloch and his team were sitting at a table together. Two of his athletes began to discuss males competing against females. Bloch chimed in to acknowledge both sides of the issue and respectfully offer his opinion that as a matter of biology, males and females have different DNA, which causes males to develop differently from females and have different physical characteristics, and that those biological differences generally give males an advantage in athletic competitions.

The conversation was respectful among all parties and lasted no more than three minutes. It took place entirely outside the presence of the male snowboarder who identifies as female, and Bloch’s team and the other team went on to compete without incident. After the competition, the two teams and their coaches, including Bloch, shared a bus home.

The following day, the superintendent of Windsor Central Supervisory Union summoned Bloch to her office and handed him a notice of “immediate termination,” while admitting that the investigation into Bloch’s conversation was not complete. The notice accused Bloch of violating Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board’s Harassment,

Hazing, and Bullying policy and the Vermont Principals’ Association related policy for “ma[king] 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.

The Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board adopted its HHB policy and procedures substantively verbatim from the model HHB policy and procedures issued by the Vermont secretary of education following a state law requiring school districts to adopt such a policy. Likewise, the VPA adopted the same statutory prohibition of “harassment.”

The lawsuit explains that the statute and policies all contain content and viewpoint discriminatory, overbroad, and unconstitutionally vague definitions of harassment that state and school officials can use—and have used, in this case—to censor protected speech.

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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Mathew Hoffmann
Mathew Hoffmann
Legal Counsel
Mathew Hoffmann serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Academic Freedom.