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A family reached a $125,000 settlement with a Vermont school district that punished them for speaking out against a biological male student using the girls' locker room, the Daily Signal reported Friday.
"This settlement was 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," Travis Allen told the White River Valley Herald.
Blake Allen, then 14, was suspended from school and her father Travis Allen lost his coaching position after both spoke out against a biological male using the girls' locker room at Randolph Union High School.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Allens' records will be cleared of references to the disciplinary action; Travis Allen will be reinstated as a middle school soccer coach, and the district will pay the family and their attorneys $125,000.
"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.
"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. 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," Sechler also said, as the Herald reported.
The lawsuit stemmed from 2022 incident in the girls locker room at the school. According to Blake and some of her peers, a biological male who identifies as transgender entered their locker room while the girls were in various states of undress.
"A male was in our locker room when volleyball girls were trying to get changed," Blake told the Daily Signal back in October.
"And after I asked him to leave, he didn’t, and later looked over at girls with their shirts off. And it made many people uncomfortable and feel violated. And I left as soon as I could in a panic," Blake also said, adding that she did not blame the trans student. Instead, she called out the school board's failure in allowing the situation to happen at all.
Blake was suspended after she allegedly referred to the trans student as "literally a dude" in a conversation with a peer during French class, and also said "he does not belong in the girls' locker room." According to the lawsuit, the trans student was not present in the class when she used the phrase.
In addition to Blake's two-day, out-of-school suspension, the school also required her to submit to taking part in a "restorative circle" with the school's "Equity Coordinator" to avoid additional punishment.
Travis was reportedly suspended without pay from his job as the middle school girls' soccer coach after "misgendering" the trans student in a Facebook post by referring to the 14-year-old biological male as a male.
According to the lawsuit, Travis Allen responded on Facebook to a woman who said she was the mother of the transgender student.
"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," Travis Allen said in the post, according to the lawsuit.
The transgender student, a week after the locker room incident, reportedly said "I'm going to f****** kill Blake Allen," the lawsuit also alleged.
"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," Orange Southwest Supervisory District Superintendent Layne Millington said, as the Herald reported.
Millington was also named in the lawsuit in his official and personal capacities.
"The district has made no admission of wrongdoing. Our policies are unchanged and we will continue to comply with our policies and the law."
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