School defends suspending teen for saying there are only two genders

A New Hampshire school district says that a middle school football coach violated a student’s rights when he disciplined him because he said there are only two genders.

“We believe the manner in which the administration dealt with the athlete was inconsistent with the district’s code of conduct and equal access law,” Kimberly Preece, the ACLU of New Hampshire’s legal director, said in a statement Friday, a day after the 13-year-old student filed a lawsuit accusing the Newfields School District of violating his freedom of speech and equal protection rights.

The district said in a statement it does not comment on pending litigation, so it is unclear if an attorney or a spokesman would be available to talk about this particular case.

“We want this to be a learning experience for both sides,” Preece said in an interview. “We want the school district to understand they cannot bully or threaten or shame or try to intimidate students.”

“We want the coach to understand that what he did was wrong and it violated the student’s rights, and he should not repeat that behavior.”

‘Gender discrimination’: The player’s father said his son was suspended for saying there are only two genders

The student, identified in the lawsuit as “John Doe,” says in the suit that he has been a football player since middle school and that he never felt threatened while playing.

However, one day in September, he said, his football coach urged him to join his teammates warming up, and when the team changed out of helmets and pads, he was told he could not play as a defensive back because he was too big.

When the player mentioned his gender, the coach allegedly said he “told me that there were only two genders” and that it was his “job to make you understand this because I am the coach.”

After that, according to the lawsuit, the coach disciplined the player for leaving the bench and for using improper language on the field.

The lawsuit does not name the coach.

The school district responded in a statement that it does not believe the player’s claims are true and that the student’s behavior was an attempt “to provoke the coach to a fight.”

“The student’s conduct caused concern by other players, in violation of the school’s behavior policies,” the statement read. “When the boy ignored repeated messages from the coach on how to handle the situation, he was placed on the stands. He was then suspended for conduct unbecoming a student on the field, effective immediately.”

In response to the lawsuit, the school district said it is “committed to fostering an environment of academic and physical integrity that respects the rights of all students and staff.”

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