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Dad and Daughter Get Payouts as School District Settles Transgender Outrage Case: 'Resounding Victory for Freedom of Speech'

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A Vermont high school volleyball player and her dad, a middle-school soccer coach, have been reinstated by their school district after being disciplined for speaking out against having a boy in the girls’ locker room.

Travis Allen and his daughter, Blake Allen, had filed a federal lawsuit last fall against school officials after they were disciplined for calling a transgender student “literally a dude” and raising concerns about him being allowed to watch while 14-year-old Blake and other girls changed clothes, the White River Valley Herald reported.

As part of the settlement, the Orange Southwest School District’s insurance company will pay $125,000, with $5,000 going to Blake Allen, $35,000 to Travis Allen and the remaining $85,000 to their law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom.

ADF Senior Counsel Philip A. Sechler called the settlement a “resounding victory for freedom of speech,” according to the report.

“We are grateful that the school recognized it was wrong to suspend Blake from school and Travis from his coaching position simply for exercising their freedom of speech,” he said.

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“No one should lose their job or get suspended from school for voicing their opinion or calling a male a male and we are glad to see this case resolved favorably, not only for Blake and Travis, but for all students and coaches to be able to speak freely and without fear of retaliation.”

The conflict began in September, when a transgender student on the girls’ volleyball team attempted to use the girls’ locker room.

Some claimed the trans student “stood leering at girls in various states of undress and refused to leave,” the Herald reported. Others claimed he hesitated because he was unsure what to do, but left after being yelled at.

The next day, according to the ADF website, “Blake shared her concerns with three classmates explaining that the student ‘literally is a dude,’ and ‘he doesn’t belong in the girls’ locker room.'”

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The school co-principals “notified Blake she was guilty of harassment and bullying of ‘a student on the basis of the targeted student’s gender identity.'”

“As punishment,” the ADF reported, “school officials told Blake she must ‘[t]ake part in a restorative circle with … our Equity Coordinator and at least two students who can help her understand the rights of students to access public accommodations … in a manner consistent with their gender identity,’ submit a ‘reflective essay,’ and serve out-of-school suspension.”

Blake’s father was disciplined after he came to her defense by commenting on a local TV station’s Facebook page that contained a report of the incident.

A Facebook user who claimed to be the mother of the trans student accused Blake of making up the story to get attention and added that “truth will prevail.”

“In response, Travis posted, ‘The truth is your son watched my daughter and multiple other girls change in the locker room. While he got a free show, they got violated,’” according to the ADF report.

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When the district superintendent saw that comment, Travis was deemed to have “misgendered a transgender student.”

He was suspended without pay from his job as the middle school girls’ soccer coach for the rest of the season.

In addition to the cash payment, the lawsuit settlement “scrubs the records of Travis Allen and Blake Allen of any reference to the discipline,” the Herald reported.

School district representatives said the language of the settlement “notes that it is a compromise and ‘is not in any way to be construed as admission of liability or wrongdoing,’” according to the Herald.

The news outlet quoted Layne Millington, superintendent of the Orange Southwest Supervisory District, as saying “the district is pleased to resolve the lawsuit at this early stage and return our focus to educating students.”

“The Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust made the decision concerning the payment in order to cap defense expenses in what would otherwise be years of litigation,” Millington continued, according to the report.

“The district has made no admission of wrongdoing. Our policies are unchanged and we will continue to comply with our policies and the law.”

In a written statement to the Herald, Travis Allen also declared a “huge victory for freedom of speech, not just for Blake and me, but for anyone who wants to voice their opinion on important topics.”

“It was worth it,” he added. “This has taken a toll on our family, both close and distant. It showed us who will and won’t support us even if they do not agree with our values. …  I wouldn’t change anything. We currently live in a time where you have to defend your values from some pretty radical ideologies.”

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.




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