John Klar: Free speech descends to new lows in Vermont – soccer coach parent suspended for calling trans student a boy

By John Klar

In another twist in the twisted tale of a Vermont girls’ volleyball team ejected from their own locker room due to conflicts with a trans-identifying student who allegedly ogled them, the father of the girl who blew the changing room whistle was dismissed as soccer coach when he refused to publicly apologize for calling the trans student a “boy.” Aside from issues of privacy or gender identification, this raises important questions about government infringement of fundamental free speech rights under the United States and Vermont Constitutions.

The father’s sentiment was not that extreme. In response to a comment by the mother of the trans student on social media, Travis Allen wrote:

“I am the father of the girl you claim ‘made up a story for attention,'” Travis Allen wrote in a Facebook reply to Sivvy. “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.”

The father added: “You think this is fine and dandy. I wonder how you would feel if I watched you undress?”

Free speech is undoubtedly an important liberty. The Vermont State Constitution recognizes this in Article 13:

That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing and publishing their sentiments, concerning the transactions of government, and therefore the freedom of the press ought not to be restrained.

It may be that Mr. Allen’s daughter “made up the story for attention,” and then it may not.  The school’s decision, as a government entity, to prohibit the father from “misgendering” the child does not seem balanced with silence about the possible harm by the trans student’s mother to “mis-motivate” Travis’s daughter.

Orange Southwest School District

Layne Millington

But such imbalance has long predominated at the speech-regulating Randolph Union High School, where Superintendent Layne Millington has banned “Let’s Go Brandon” shirts as obscene, a Chick-fil-A fundraiser as hateful, and “there are only two genders” shirts as, well, hate speech. When parents complained about the school’s display of a BLM flag in clear contravention of basic free speech laws, Millington labeled them hateful.  And when parents expressed concerns that their daughters were being forced to change in front of a student sporting a penis, they were maligned as hateful bigots and lumped together with those who spewed hatred toward transgender people.

Jordan Peterson has rightly observed that this is not about banning a hateful word, but mandating required speech:

“I’m not going to cede linguistic territory to post-modernist neo-Marxists.” The difference is whether the question is asked by an individual or forced by the state. … He believes that state-imposed speech — in whatever capacity or form — is a red flag designating an oppressive and denigrating society. … By forcing people to say one thing or another, it is an absolute abuse of state power. … To Peterson, transgenderism has no foundation in biology, but transgender individuals can have rights if they so wish. However, he has been labelled alt-right incorrectly due to his opposing stance to issues that fall far beyond transgender rights, but to general freedom and free speech.

Superintendent Layne Millington’s speech-regulating practices constitute content-filtering totalitarianism that has caused parents to recoil and fight back — exactly as Dr. Peterson warned would happen if people’s psyches were enslaved by state ideology. Peterson warns that the natural human reaction will yield far-right extremism. Millington falsely portrays justifiably concerned parents as far-right extremists, fueling a divisive vicious cycle that empowers him to in turn enforce even more of his social-justice social media policing powers.

Travis Allen offered to pull the Facebook post and call the students by their names without pronouns at school, but that was not acceptable to Herr Millington, who wrote in an October 18 letter to the fired father:

While you have a right to your own opinions, you have chosen to publicly put yourself in opposition to the principles the district and its coaches are compelled to uphold. … The district offered to work with you to make these matters right, the two possible solutions you offered were insufficient to re-establish the public trust you have damaged: avoiding using gender pronouns when communicating with transgender students and taking down the posts. The district recommended a public apology which you refused leaving the matter unresolved. Therefore, you have been suspended without pay for the remainder of the season. You were also offered the opportunity to change your mind at any time during the suspension in order to make things right and to earn back the public trust in your ability to support all students in your role as RUHS coach.

There is no right here for Travis Allen to have his own opinions, only to accept the principles of the principals, to do what is “recommended” as the “offered opportunity” to publicly recant. In an inquisition, the prisoner may always confess his/her/their sins. When the Taliban visits, the subject can “make matters right” by “earning back the public trust.”  Mao’s Red Guard similarly secured obedience through public shaming.

Layne Millington exhibits a calculated effort to present this ongoing dispute as one of pro- versus anti-trans. This will be a tough battle for him, since the social construct that there are numerous genders conflicts with the biological evidence to the contrary, and the only way to resolve that discussion is via open dialogue. And it is tough to enjoy open dialogue about science when one side is systemically shushed.

Vermont offers experimental gender-shifting hormones to prepubescent children. These are “off-label,” meaning they are not approved by the FDA. A pending statute would provide these harmful pharmaceuticals to children with no age restrictions, without parental consent. Perhaps questioning that treatment of their children will be determined by the speech police to be as verboten as “misgendering” pronouns.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.

Image courtesy of Orange Southwest School District

20 thoughts on “John Klar: Free speech descends to new lows in Vermont – soccer coach parent suspended for calling trans student a boy

  1. Please stop complaining. The Ministry of Truth has spoken.

    You are to think what we tell you to think and speak what we tell you to speak.

    You thought the Ministry would come dressed in gray and shouting dictates? No, we look normal and talk calmly and are on NPR and at VTDigger. We’ll even coo at you in soothing tones through the radio waves.

    Haven’t you gotten it yet? You’re free to dress as you wish and declare whatever you want regarding gender: perfect freedom. Want to be a girly-girl and wear a short skirt and dress in high heels and tell your friends that you’re “Joan” and not “John”? Want to ogle the real girls as they dress? That’s your freedom. Go for it: the door is wide open. You are not free, however, to think as you wish or say what you wish or you’ll be put down as a Denier Spreading Misinformation (DSM.) You are not free to have genuinely-held opinions or convictions to be expressed in public … or in private, either, as you’ll likely soon find out.

    Get with the program … or else.

    If you have any questions, please listen to NPR for Trusted Information.


    Agent 714, Thought Police Warning Division, Ministry of Truth, NPR district 712.

  2. Our property taxes paid to the State fund an education system that is corrupt and infilitrated by a collective of nefarious creatures. Those who wish to no longer support such a system should act accordingly and withhold the funding en masse. Our money is fueling it and without it, they flame out. Time to make a stand and defund districts that act out with clear disregard for child safety and welfare.

    • How many homeowners are willing to tie themselves up financially and legally by withholding property tax? Don’t pay on time and interest is added to the bill. Don’t pay long enough and the town takes your property. Bottom line is that they will get paid.

      • The old expression goes: “if you dont pay your taxes, men with guns will come to your house”. Let’s see how things go with the election, both in Vermont and nationally before we bring enforcement hell down upon our heads. ALWAYS voting NO on school budgets and bonds is a good start. NEVER voting for democrats or progressives will bring Vermont back to it’s days of fiscal and moral common sense. Stop buying goods and using services that feed the leftist beast, such as Amazon, Facebook and Paypal.

  3. For endless years VT Democrats have hoisted that it is all about “local control” of the schools in VT….Yeah, right. If there was any real “local control” you wouldn’t have such indoctrinating power by the teachers, Union and Supervisors.. There is no REAL “local control”….it is all in the hands of biased teachers, and layers of overpaid Union mid level supervisors, who dicate what is taught and how it is run…..just another in a long line of liberal smoke screen “feel good” scams. As for “local control”…if you DO NOT do what they say – or give the Union whatever they want….they will strike and halt your children’s education! So it has NOTHING to do with the “children”….but them…and the pretty pitiful statewide test scores show it.

  4. Please take the time to review my comments below regarding our public education system’s ‘adminstrative state’.

  5. Yes, yes, yes just another looney liberal in charge, or think they are in charge,
    they are your children and your schools, these clowns work for you the taxpayer.

    Demand the resignation of those involved, and an apology to the children !!

  6. How did things get this far? If a Vermont public school student decides he/she wants to identify as and be referred to as Napoleon Bonaparte would a coach be suspended if they addressed him by the name that he/she originally enrolled as? Would the school be sued for not changing all school records for that student to reflect their chosen identity? In the real world, the student would politely and quietly be referred for a psychiatric evaluation. In the real world, both scenarios would be considered likely the result of a delusional disorder or a pathological social contagion.

  7. We need more private schools and school choice so people can vote with their feet and get out of these schools. I see Tiffany Riley just settled her lawsuit against Windsor for her firing. No details on what the settlement was though.

    • Fired, Dismissed or Terminated- with the school board and superintendent being the determining group. Millington is employed most likely by contract, not ‘at will’. Millington ( I dare not use “He” when referring to Millington, it might offend) most likely does not have union representation, but may have termination clause(s). You can bet that there would be a wrongful termination suit, with a taxpayer funded payout. As with most government employees, terminating one is difficult at best, impossibly expensive and painful to the taxpayer.
      The real question is, does the Randolph School Board and Superintendent have any desire to do the right thing and terminate this employee? My bet is not.

      • And this is why Millington does what Millington does..
        Millington feels untouchable.

        The taxpayers should rip off the bandaid and fire Millington- and fight the battle that will cause.
        It might be costly, but it might also only take one time to make a point that you WILL Go There.. so the other bad actors will take notice.

        Remember what Steve Bannon said: “They are not going to just hand you back your country”

        We are at war with these people that are hell bent on destroying our nation, and yeah they are after our kids.
        So to decide not to spend the money on this, that is really to decide not to get into the battle. Millington is fighting, and now the people are not going to fight back?

        Freedom has never been cheap or easy.

      • The Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA) is a professional organization providing leadership in public education through its educational programs, administrator professionalism, and communications programs. Members include Vermont’s superintendents and assistant superintendents. The VSA has registered lobbyists with the Vermont Secretary of State Elections Division, as does the teacher’s union. And, while each superintendent’s contract is separately negotiated with a supervisory union board, as the NEA teacher contracts are separately negotiated, the VSA does provide direction and representation in the negotiation process.

        Vermont is an at-will employment state. Under these employment laws, employers can terminate an employee at any time and for any reason or no reason at all, unless there is a contract in place or there are other statutes governing the employee-employer relationship. Otherwise, employment contracts must have language defining termination, resignation, and other terms. If not, they are sometimes deemed to be unenforceable and void.

        So, the ownness for the Superintendents behavior rests with the Supervisory Union School Board, which, in turn, rests with the voters in that district.

        • Important: this VT Digger story reveals some of the ‘back-room’ (and dare I say, major) players in our education system politics. Take the Vermont School Board Insurance Trust (VSBIT). Not to mention its affiliate, The Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI) – a non-profit organization that, for more than two decades, has served school districts by offering employee benefit plans responsive to the needs of both employers and employees and their dependents.

          The incestuous nature of these background organizations that affect education policy across the board cannot be exaggerated. The VEHI organization management includes BCBC executives, the teacher union NEA Benefits Directors, and members of the Vermont School Board Association. These are ALL un-elected positions that have a major impact on Vermont’s public education policies and costs.

          These are yet more examples of why elected school board members, who want to reform Vermont’s public education system, don’t stand a chance. Talk about the ‘administrative state’. Is it any wonder that education and government benefit programs are ‘defined benefit’ plans, not ‘defined contribution’ plans, as they should be. In short – the fix is in.

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