Massachusetts school rips 'harmful comments' made toward transgender athlete accused of injuring opponent


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KIPP Academy Lynn, a Massachusetts private school, remains steadfast in its decision to allow a transgender student to play for the girls’ basketball team despite recent backlash after a video showed the player hurting an opponent. 

KIPP Academy saw Collegiate Charter School of Lowell forfeit a game at halftime this month after three players were hurt, one of which was caught on video that showed a transgender player wrestling for a rebound and tossing their opponent hard on the court. The Collegiate Charter player appeared to suffer a back injury. 

The now-viral video led KIPP Academy’s executive director, Rhonda Barnes, to blast “harmful comments” that were made about the student and the school.

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A basketball hoop, net and backboard are shown. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“To the best of our knowledge, this student has never been on a men’s team at KIPP,” Barnes told the Boston Globe, while also confirming the player identifies as transgender.

A KIPP Academy spokesperson also told the Boston Globe, “We condemn harmful comments being made online toward members of our community and will continue to let the vision, mission and principles of our organization guide our actions.”

Barnes had previously given a statement to Fox News Digital about the situation, which had similar verbiage. 

“The vision of KIPP Massachusetts is that every child grows up free to create the future they want for themselves and their communities,” Barnes wrote. “To do this, we work to create joyful and identity-affirming schools for our students, and prioritize maintaining student and staff safety above everything else.”

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“We also support state laws and regulations, which provide students with the right to participate in all school extracurricular activities and sports based on their gender identity or expression,” Barnes continued.

“We condemn harmful comments being made online toward members of our community, and will continue to let the vision, mission and principles of our organization guide our actions.”

Fox News Digital followed up by asking where KIPP Academy balances safety as a priority if injuries occur in this case, to which no answer was immediately given. 

A source told Fox News Digital the transgender student is more than 6 feet tall and has facial hair.

Carol Rose, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, also spoke with the Boston Globe, saying the video is “part of a coordinated attempt nationwide to try to remove LGBTQ people from public life.” She added that “hundreds, if not thousands” of trans student-athletes participate in high school sports without issues arising.

Collegiate Charter spokesperson Casey Crane released a statement that indicated the school’s approval of coach Kevin Ortins’ decision to forfeit the game at halftime, especially with the team’s playoff game close on the schedule.

“On February 8th, the coach of the Collegiate Charter School of Lowell Girls’ Basketball Team decided to end a game at halftime after watching a third player injured in the game with KIPP Academy,” the statement reads. 

Basketball near the net

A view of a basketball reaching the hoop (iStock)

“The bench was already depleted going into the game with the 12-player roster having four players unable to play. When the coach saw three more go down in the first half leaving him with five players, he made the call to end the game early. The upcoming Charter School playoffs were looming, and he needed a healthy and robust bench in four days.”

However, the statement also alludes to the remaining healthy girls expressing “concern” to their coach about continuing to play. 

“Once the third was injured, the remaining five expressed concern to him about continuing to play. The players feared getting injured and not being able to compete in the playoffs,” the statement reads.

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“In an effort to maintain safety for his team, he decided to forfeit. The Charter School supports this decision and reiterates its values of both inclusivity and safety for all students. We take the standards set by the MIAA and our Board of Trustees seriously and strive to uphold them on and off the court. We also follow the guidance from the MIAA and state laws regarding equity and access for all student-athletes,” it continues.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) handbook states in Section 43.3.1 that “a student shall not be excluded from participation on a gender-specific sports team that is consistent with the student’s bona fide gender identity.”

Collegiate Charter was aware of this student playing for KIPP Academy, having faced each other on the court earlier this season.

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The incident occurred this month in Massachusetts.

Section 43.3.4 of the handbook also says, “It is a recommended best practice that schools communicate with their opponents as necessary about the gender-specific needs of their team in order to promote inclusion – e.g. to ensure that appropriate locker room facilities are available, that announcer use athlete’s correct pronouns, etc.”

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Furthermore, Massachusetts General Laws state “no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges, and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.”



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