Alliance Defending Freedom

A snowboard coach in Vermont has settled with a Vermont school after alleging he was fired for acknowledging biological differences between men and women. Coach David Bloch began the snowboarding team at Woodstock Union High School (WUHS) over a decade ago in 2011, initially on a volunteer basis for the first three years. During that time, the success of the team led to it consistently winning top-three places in the state and several of his athletes winning state championships.

That all changed on February 8, 2023, when Bloch and his team were waiting at a lodge for a competition to start. Bloch overhead a conversation between two of his athletes about a male who identified as female and was competing against the girls’ team. Bloch joined the conversation and, according to a complaint filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Bloch, “affirmed 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.” It added that “Coach Bloch discussed that biological differences generally give males competitive advantages in athletic events.” The complaint states that the conversation was respectful, lasting only three minutes and that the female-identifying player was not present during the conversation. ADF asserted that the Bloch’s comments were consistent with his beliefs as a Roman Catholic and that his beliefs on sex are based on “scientific evidence.” 

Bloch’s team competed and even rode home with the female-identifying player without incident. However, the next day, he was called into superintendent Sherry Sousa’s office and was informed he was terminated due to violating Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board’s Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying (HHB) policy and the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) 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.” Speaking to “The Daily Signal Podcast,” Bloch said he was shocked. “I was just shocked that I could be fired for literally speaking biological fact,” he said

With the ADF representing him, Bloch filed a suit against Sousa, Heather Bouchey, Interim Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Education, Jay Nichols, Executive Director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, Windsor Central Supervisory Union Board, alleging that his First Amendment Rights had been violated and requesting that he be reinstated as coach. The lawsuit was first filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, where it was denied by US District Judge Christina Reiss. Bloch’s legal team then notified the judge that they would be filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. However, according to the ADF, that appeal is no longer necessary as Bloch and the plaintiffs had reached a settlement. ADF Legal Counsel Matthew Hoffman called Bloch’s decision to file suit an act of courage. “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 said. He added, “As a result of Dave’s courage in filing suit, the truth is clear – everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, especially on matters of public concern.” 

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