New policies to prevent hate speech at sports games

October 22, 2021 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Principals’ Association has announced new policies to prevent hate speech during sports games after several reported incidents of racist and sexist comments at recent high school games.

At a Winooski-Enosburg boys soccer game last month, a few Enosburg players were accused of making racist statements. The Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union said it did an investigation and did not find evidence of such statements, but was unable to interview the Winooski athletes because they declined to meet with investigators. Days after that game, Burlington volleyball players faced racial and transphobic comments.

“We’re not having this anymore. And if somebody does it, we’re gonna take action against them,” said Jay Nichols, executive director of the Vermont Principals Association.

Schools must read a statement before each event telling athletes and spectators to behave in a respectful manner or face consequences, according to the new rules released on Tuesday. The VPA has started an online system where concerns can be reported and officials, such as referees, must participate in implicit bias training this winter.

“We want kids to call out people who are saying things that are sexist to them or racist to them or attacking them for their religion or gender identity or whatever it might be,” Nichols said.