A Vermont school district punished a father and his daughter for speaking out against a biological male in the girls’ locker room. Now, The Daily Signal has learned, the district has settled with the Allen family in what its legal team is hailing as a “resounding victory.”
That settlement requires that the Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust pay $125,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and costs to Travis Allen and Jessica Allen, on behalf of their daughter, Blake Allen, and their attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Under the settlement, the district will reinstate Travis Allen, the father, as middle school soccer coach, and will scrub any records of discipline against Travis Allen and daughter Blake from school records.
Further, the settlement requires the Orange Southwest School District Board and school officials named in the Allens’ lawsuit to remove any content posted online by the school related to the locker room business as well as from the bulletin board or boards at Randolph Union Middle/High School displaying “love and support” messages to the trans-identifying student.
The Alliance Defending Freedom hailed the settlement as a huge win for the Allen family.
“The settlement of Blake and Travis Allen’s case is a resounding victory for freedom of speech,” Phil Sechler, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Daily Signal on Thursday.
“Calling a male a male shouldn’t have cost Travis his job and gotten Blake kicked out of school,” he added. “We are very glad that the school agreed to do the right thing by giving Travis his coaching job back and dropping the discipline against Blake. Everyone has the right to speak freely, and we are grateful that this settlement further protects that right.”
In their lawsuit filed in October, the Allens said that they “were punished for expressing their view on a matter of profound public concern: whether a teenage male who ‘identifies’ as female should be permitted to change in a girls’ locker room, regardless of the discomfort experienced by the girls in that room.”
“In objecting to a male being in the room while the girls are changing, Travis and Blake each made comments underscoring that the trans-identifying student is in fact a male, including by using male pronouns,” said the lawsuit, details of which were first obtained by The Daily Signal. “Indeed, their view of the student’s maleness was foundational to their opinions on appropriate use of the locker room.”
“Yet, their remarks were too much for Defendants’ transgender orthodoxy—Travis was deemed to have ‘misgendered’ the student, while Blake was found guilty of ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying’—so Defendants disciplined both of them.”
Superintendent Layne Millington, Co-Principals Lisa Floyd and Caty Sutton, and the Orange Southwest School District Board are state actors and “violate the First Amendment” by attempting to dictate “what may be said on matters of public concern,” the lawsuit said, noting that these school district officials also cannot discriminate against speech on the basis of its viewpoint.
“Yet, that is exactly what happened here,” the filing stated. “Defendants punished Travis and Blake for saying that a male is a male, as a matter of sex and biology, regardless of the gender identity that the male has assumed.”
The Daily Signal first reported that Travis Allen had been suspended without pay from his job as the Randolph Union Middle School girls soccer coach for calling the trans-identifying student a male. His suspension followed a Daily Signal video and report highlighting Blake’s discomfort at a biological male using her locker room while she was changing. Jessica Allen also spoke out in the video.
Several of Blake’s fellow female students who spoke with The Daily Signal said they asked the student to leave, but said the student did not immediately do so. The girls said that the student stood in the corner and looked at them while they were changing, causing them to feel uncomfortable.
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