Skip to main content
Card Image

VT Christian school challenges discriminatory state funding program and expulsion from state athletics

ADF attorneys available for media interviews Friday following hearing

Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Mid Vermont Christian School v. Bouchey

WHEN:  Immediately following hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT, Friday, April 19

WHERE:  U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, 11 Elmwood Ave., Burlington. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Jacqueline Ribeiro at (202) 961-9396.

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Mid Vermont Christian School and two families will be available for media interviews Friday following oral arguments in federal district court in their lawsuit against Vermont officials for denying the Christian school and its students from participating in the state’s tuition program and sports league because of their religious beliefs. ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in November.

Vermont, through its Agency and Board of Education and Vermont Principals’ Association, requires private, religious schools like Mid Vermont Christian to adopt the state’s view on human sexuality and gender—namely, that sex is mutable and biological differences do not matter—as a condition to participate in the state’s tuition program and athletic association. Doing so violates the First Amendment rights of Mid Vermont Christian, its students and families, and other faith-based schools by preventing them from practicing their religious beliefs.

“No religious school or the families that go there should be punished simply for holding to their religious beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jake Reed, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of the school and families. “Vermont keeps orchestrating new ways to discriminate against religious schools—despite recently paying thousands of dollars in settlement fees over such discrimination. Ignoring U.S. Supreme Court and Second Circuit precedent, the state continues its infamous record of trying to exclude religious schools and families, so we are urging the court to uphold constitutional protections by guaranteeing the school can fully participate while still adhering to its religious beliefs.”

Mid Vermont Christian School is a faith-based pre-K-12 school located in Quechee whose religious beliefs drive and form the foundation for everything it does. Last year, Vermont’s Agency of Education refused to designate Mid Vermont Christian as an approved independent school because of those beliefs, which meant the school could not participate in the state’s Town Tuitioning Program. That program pays for students residing in school districts that do not operate public high schools to attend an approved private school of the students’ choice. The State tried to walk back its denial from last year, but it still has not granted the school fully approved independent status and the school and its families do not know whether they will be able to participate moving forward.

Additionally, the VPA kicked Mid Vermont Christian out of the state’s athletic association because the school declined to play a girls’ basketball game against a male because it believed doing so violated its religious convictions. Although the VPA has historically prohibited boys from playing on girls’ sports teams “to protect opportunities for girl athletes,” it recently adopted policies that allow males to participate in girls’ sports and is demanding Mid Vermont Christian girls’ teams play against teams with male athletes. The VPA refuses to let the school back in unless it capitulates and agrees to force its girls to compete against males.

When the school reluctantly forfeited a girls’ high school basketball game against a team that had a male athlete playing for them, the VPA kicked Mid Vermont Christian out of the association. Now, despite 28 years of prior participation in the league, the school cannot compete in any VPA activities effectively blacklisting the school from all state-sponsored events in the state. The VPA is going so far as to exclude Mid Vermont Christian and its students from participating in academic competitions like the Geo-Bee, Science and Math Fair, and Debate and Forensics League, all because the school believes biological differences between boys and girls matter.

Michael Tierney and Gretchen Wade are serving as local counsel in the case, Mid Vermont Christian School v. Bouchey.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

# # #