Recently, a small Christian school in Vermont (and no, we don’t need to put air quotes around the word “Christian” this time) forfeited a girls’ basketball game to a team on which an allegedly “transgender girl” was playing. A spokeswoman for Mid Vermont Christian School said it was unfair and unsafe for its girls to be forced to compete against biological males. The Vermont Principals’ Association has now banned MVCS from participating in all future tournaments. Citing the state’s supposed “Best Practices,” and its own support for an “inclusive community,” the association has now excluded girls who play for that school from playing with girls of other schools.
Who is the bigot here? And who the true progressive? Modern “progressives” and Christian educators alike need to be reminded of the principles by which real progress has come to our world. I explain in this open letter to the relevant heads of school.
Dear Principals of Vermont:
In the name of “inclusion,” you are now excluding young women of Mid Vermont Christian School from competing in any sporting events under your jurisdiction. They don’t want to play against boys, so they shall not play at all. Not only do you seem to miss the irony of your position. You are overlooking, it seems to me, the nature of speech itself. You forget that terms like “woman” and “human,” indeed all words in every language, are inherently exclusive. They define one object as opposed to another, or lose all meaning, and the ability to communicate, which separates humans from other creatures, is lost. A boy is not a girl, nor a beetle, nor a beluga.
Humpty Dumpty may think words should mean whatever he likes. But we must descend from Humpty’s wall on one side or the other, and define words clearly and therefore exclusively, even to retain our advantage over animals and talking eggs as human beings who wish to talk clear sense.
Aside from language, you also neglect history, including the history of ethical progress. For just as you exclude girls in the name of “inclusiveness,” you are also excluding sincere followers of a faith that has done much to raise the status of women around the world, in the name of what you call the best practices of progressive politics.
What does “progress” really mean? Where does it come from? Consider what previous civilizations saw as “best practices” in regard to women, and what the Gospel followed by Mid Vermont Christian School did to improve those practices.
In the Roman Empire, “best practices” once meant setting female babies out in the cold to cry themselves to death, or be nabbed by enterprising brothel owners. In some towns, it was rare for a family to raise more than one daughter.
Greco-Roman literature is full of stories of infant abandonment, and archeologists have found some of the bones. As Rodney Stark shows in The Rise of Christianity, it was followers of Jesus who said, “Stop! Christ cares for little girls, too, and so should society!”
“Best practices” in India meant that a young woman often married at nine or younger. When her husband died, she was encouraged to throw herself on his funeral pyre and burn to death (or, warned the Law of Manu, she would be reborn in a jackal’s womb.)
Missionaries like William Carey fought both sati (as such suicides were called) and child marriage. (Prompting mass protests in Bengal when the age of marriage for girls was raised to twelve!) Missionaries also founded schools for girls, who had previously seldom been educated.
Schools in Vermont and around the world that admit girls are products of that heritage.
“Best practices” in China meant breaking the bones of little girls, so they would be confined mostly to their homes for life. One traveler in the 19th Century reports that he could hear the cries of girls in the morning as he walked the streets of Chinese cities. Again, it was Christian missionaries who began a movement culminating in an end to foot-binding throughout China. (And, again, to educate girls.)
When a Christian school expresses concern about the safety of girls, then, it stands in a long and noble tradition that has changed the world. (Also by founding hospitals.)
“Best practices” in Muslim countries meant a husband could marry four wives, sleep with his slave women, and beat his women when they mouthed off. (Mohammed threatened to divorce all his wives when they complained about a new member of the harem.) Again, dedicated Christian believers like St. Patrick, Benjamin Lay, and William Wilberforce liberated slaves around the world.
Do you really want to pick a fight with these folks over the well-being of young women? Christians have been liberating girls from despotic practices for thousands of years. A 1988 United Nations study showed that the status of women was far higher in countries that had enjoyed centuries of Christian influence, than in Buddhist or especially Hindu or Muslim lands.
So when Christians protest against letting boys into girls’ locker rooms, or competing in the pool or on the court, don’t act surprised. Jesus taught Mary along with his other disciples. He commissioned the Samaritan woman at the well as his ambassador. He saved a woman caught in adultery from being stoned. Ever since then many of his followers have stood in the thick of the battle for women’s rights.
The Gospel stands not only against male athletes who think they have a right to play against biological females. It also warns against casual sex. Though you smile upon it, it degrades love and saps the strength of civilization, even as birth rates plummet. And then you celebrate even that! You reply: “Let’s have more abortions! Let’s cut off reproductive body parts!”
In short, Christianity stands for human flourishing, against forces you call “progressive,” but that are ruining lives and destroying families and civilizations all around. That includes in your schools!
In opposing the fraud that is trans-sexuality, we also stand once again for Science. “Again,” you ask? Of course! Christian monks were the “artisans who made Europe,” reports historian Lynn White. Pious Christians also resurrected Greek science, then created entire new fields of inquiry: the skeptical chemistry of Robert Boyle, the mathematical astronomy of Johannes Kepler, the artificial intelligence of Blaise Pascal.
The “trans” movement is not merely unscientific nonsense. It is a cruel, primitive superstition, like cannibalizing your enemy’s liver to gain his mana. Transgenderism is man trying to make himself God, and turning himself into a monster instead.
Inclusion is one of many myths of our generation. You worship such idols much as King Nebuchadnezzar worshipped his golden statue. C.S. Lewis warned that love “begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god.” The imps you honor will betray both themselves and you.
You speak of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (D.E.I). Better reorder that into D.I.E., for it is death that your ideology is sowing and beginning to reap. Human bodies, it turns out, generally come in just one of two forms. Try to stretch that “diversity” beyond its natural limits, and you spoil the natural function of male and female, which actually is quite necessary to society.
May schools like Mid Vermont Christian help lead western civilization out of your Culture of Death, back to the Creator of Life. A sports program sane enough to “include” qualifying girls, while “excluding” boys, will take a small step back in the direction of sane Christian reform. And in the tournament of principles, not principals, Mid Vermont Christian is one school in your state that has not forfeited, but dunked the ball and shown us how the most important game — the game of Life — ought to be played.
The more they win at that, the more we all win. I urge you now to step aside. Forfeit this foolishness. Take the loss. You will win, too.
David Marshall, an educator and writer, has a doctoral degree in Christian thought and Chinese tradition. His most recent book is The Case for Aslan: Evidence for Jesus in the Land of Narnia.