Snowboarding coach David Bloch was fired after acknowledging biological differences exist between men and women. 

Bloch worked as a coach at Woodstock Union High School in Woodstock, Vermont, for 12 years and says he loved being in the snow and watching the kids he coached grow. 

“I think it’s so incredible to watch the progress,” Bloch said, adding that he loves watching students “sit on top of a giant slalom course for the first time, and you can see the fear in their eyes, and then by the time they make it down, it’s like I wrote them a check for a million dollars.”

During a competition in February, Bloch overheard some of his students discussing the issue of men competing in women’s sports. The coach joined the conversation and acknowledged that biological differences exist between men and women, and that generally males do have a competitive advantage against females, given the physiological differences between the sexes.

The next day, the schools superintendent of Windsor Central Supervisory Union called Bloch into her office and terminated him for the comments he made the day prior. 

“I was just shocked that I could be fired for literally speaking biological fact,” Bloch says. 

Bloch and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Mathew Hoffmann join “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss his legal case. 

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Virginia Allen: It is my privilege today to be joined by Vermont snowboarding coach Mr. David Bloch and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Mathew Hoffmann. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here.

David Bloch: My pleasure.

Mathew Hoffmann: Thanks for having us.

Allen: Well, Coach Bloch, you have an incredibly powerful story and we’re going to get into some of the details of your story, but first, I’d love just to hear a little bit about how you got into snowboarding. When did you first start snowboarding?

Bloch: I started snowboarding about 40 years ago.

Allen: Why did you decide to start coaching?

Bloch: I had started a local snowboard program at a local hill that helped local kids that one way, shape, or form couldn’t make it to the mountain, whether financial or social or behavioral issues. We call it a local Friday program. And a couple of those parents had high school kids that wanted to start a team, so those parents approached me and the rest is history and we started the program 12 years ago.

Allen: What do you enjoy most about coaching?

Bloch: There’s a lot, but as you were asking that question, what comes to mind immediately is the kids. I love being on the snow. The wind and the powder and the moguls and the tricks and the progression of the kids and all that stuff is just so amazing to watch on the snow. But it’s really to see the kids grow from a freshman on up and now I allow middle schoolers to come in, too, but just to watch the progression.

Off the snow, I think it’s so incredible to watch the progress, and that’s with all sports, but with snowboarding, to watch the kid who can barely connect turns ride up a chairlift and then sit on top of a giant slalom course for the first time, and you can see the fear in their eyes, and then by the time they make it down, it’s like I wrote them a check for a million dollars.

The pride in them is just, it sounds corny, but it is heartwarming, and I just feel it now. It’s unbelievable to watch these kids grow. Unbelievable. So on a field, they’re kicking a ball. That’s great, I appreciate it. But that giant slalom course when they’re sitting there and the fear is in their eyes and they do it, it’s amazing.

Allen: Well, speaking as a fellow New Englander who grew up skiing, I remember that fear personally of sitting at the top of the mountain.

Bloch: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Allen: You think, “Can I really do that or am I going to die?” But somehow it works out and it is an immense sense of pride.

Bloch: That’s great.

Allen: So you have been working as a high school snowboarding coach in Woodstock, Vermont, and in February you were at a competition with some of your students, and a conversation came up among some of the students about the differences between biological men and women and whether men who identify as women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. You chimed into that conversation. Explain a little bit about what happened and what you said.

Bloch: So, we were between competitions waiting in the cafeteria, and I hear one member of our team, a boy, say, “DNA, DNA,” and that caught my ear and I just kept going about my business. Then I heard the word “transphobe” and that’s what caught my ear and so I went over.

And I’ve been involved in conversations, not this subject, but other conversations where I just share fact. That is my protocol. I keep my opinion as far out of these things.

I mean, I’ve been doing this a long time and I know, so I just shared my opinion, and basically it was, “Biological boys are different than biological girls and there are physical characteristics that help boys become stronger: different muscles, different bones,” and that was it. It was just a simple conversation, less than two minutes, and that was it. Everybody was happy. There was no issue.

Allen: Were there any other personnel, teachers involved in that conversation?

Bloch: No, it was just myself and the two students, the male and the female on our team.

Allen: So then the next day you’re preparing to go to work and the superintendent calls you into your office. What does she say?

Bloch: Right. So, she first had the athletic director call me, ask what I said. I told him exactly what I told you and he said, “Well, I need you to go to the superintendent’s office,” and I thought it was going to be, “So, Dave, have a seat.” What happens? “Hear me out,” maybe give me a warning, maybe offer training. I sat down, maybe I stood, I don’t remember, but she slid the termination letter across the table. I was fired the moment I walked in that room. That was it.

Allen: What were you thinking in that moment?

Bloch: Well, to be honest with you, I was rattled, but I was just shocked that I could be fired for literally speaking biological fact. Biological fact.

I have a mom and a sister and female friends and a wife and I know the difference between a male and a female, I mean, that alone, and I was fired for stating a biological fact. I just couldn’t believe it. I was in such shock. Yeah.

Allen: Do you know, did any of the students complain? Or what was the impetus that the school was saying, “Because of X, Y, and Z, you’re now terminated without discussion”?

Bloch: Right. So after I was fired that day, I texted the team, we have a group varsity team, and I told them I was fired for that conversation. Every single text, every person that responded was in support, including both of the students that were in that conversation, so apparently someone from the team shared the conversation on the bus. We shared the bus with the transgender athlete.

And I believe that it was a positive conversation because when I finished the conversation with the two students, the female who was decrying “transphobe” to the male had said, “Coach, that was great.” She literally used those, she literally used positive language during the conversation, so I’m sure it was her that shared the story. This is just a guess.

Then it went from that to a parent to the athletic director, from that athletic director to our vice principal, from our vice principal on. And so, on and on it went.

Allen: Mr. Hoffmann, I want to pull you in here and get your legal expertise on this. Of course, you’re an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, who’s representing Coach Bloch in this case. Explain a little bit about the grounds by which the school is claiming it had the authority to fire Coach Bloch. We know that they’re claiming that there was a violation of the Windsor Central Supervisor Union Board’s harassment, hazing, and bullying policy, as well as a Vermont Principals’ Association-related policy. Explain what these policies are and why they say Coach was in violation of them.

Hoffmann: Yes, the school district says that this conversation Coach Bloch had, which was respectful among all parties, harassed the student based on gender identity for a student that wasn’t even present for the conversation at all.

And so that’s extremely problematic under the First Amendment because what is clear is that we all have the freedom to discuss important matters of public concern and we don’t lose that sacrifice when we become coaches and the First Amendment certainly protects that right against overbroad policies that censor speech, like the ones of issue in this case.

Allen: So what is Alliance Defending Freedom arguing then for Coach Bloch?

Hoffmann: We have asked the court to reinstate Coach Bloch as coach for the upcoming season because he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for his protected speech. We had a hearing on that in September and the court is currently considering our request to reinstate Coach Bloch, so we hope that he’ll be here for the upcoming season, able to coach those kids again.

And we’re arguing that you cannot fire people, you cannot fire employees and coaches for expressing their opinions on important issues that affect the rights of children, parents, teachers, administrators, all of the above, and discuss this important issue.

Allen: It’s well-known that Vermont is not necessarily a conservative state. How did that hearing in September in Vermont go?

Hoffmann: Well, we presented our case. Coach Bloch took the stand and told the court exactly what we discussed here about expressing his opinion on this important issue. A student also testified, one of Coach Bloch’s players, snowboarders also testified discussing the conversation, too. So people have different views on this topic, but I think one thing we should all agree on is nobody should be fired just for respectfully expressing their opinion.

Allen: Coach Bloch, why did you decide that you wanted to take legal action?

Bloch: There’s several reasons and it’s been an emotional spectrum, but immediately, I went right to the girls. I just know that my team, these girls are out practicing day and night, they’re at the hill just about every day. There’s one day that we don’t practice and we’re otherwise at competitions or at practice.

These girls show up and they’re working hard and they take a bus two hours away, they show up and they lose because there’s someone with a huge biological advantage. And I feel confident that the girls on the Woodstock snowboard team are some of the hardest working teams out there. They’re dedicated, they have backyard trick areas and they’re practicing the giant slalom. I mean, they’re just amazing people and great athletes and focused and then it’s just so unfair. That was a big motivator.

Freedom of speech, huge motivator. We have a local coach—then this is, as I thought about it more, like, “What am I doing?” In the moment, that’s what, those two items.

The second one was what confirmed my belief, was we have a local coach 20 minutes away who has gone through the same thing that I am and he had a lot to lose and he stood up and that was a confirmation.

Then there was a book that I recently read and it just basically talks about what’s going on in our country and all Americans need to stand up, especially the ones that believe this. The ones hiding in the shadows are not helping this cause, not helping themselves, and not helping this country.

It’s just really those four reasons are my big motivators. There’s a lot of good reasons why we should be standing up.

Allen: If you could speak to your students and share a message with them, what would you want to say to those girls on your snowboarding team?

Bloch: Well, it’s something that I said to them already and that, “I love you, I miss you, stand up for what you believe.”

Allen: Mr. Hoffmann, when are we going to know the ruling? I know we can’t always predict what courts do, but do we have any sense of when we’ll get a decision?

Hoffmann: Yeah, we cannot predict, so we don’t know the exact timeline. We’re hopeful it’ll be in the next few weeks so that, ideally, Coach Bloch can get back to coaching for the upcoming season, which starts late November, early December, but there’s really no way of knowing.

Virginia Allen: Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time.

Bloch: Thank you.

Hoffmann: Thanks for having us.

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