High school coach fired after pushing to change state trans athlete law: ‘Vilified’ for standing up for girls

An Oregon high school track and field coach says his First Amendment rights were violated when a local school district terminated his contract for sending letters to state officials, advocating for a change in laws concerning transgender athletes.

John Parks had been the head track and field coach at Lake Oswego High School outside of Portland from Jan. 2023 until backlash ensued after he penned letters to Peter Weber, the Executive Director of the Oregon Student Activities Association (OSAA), and State Sen. Rob Wagner in May, seeking changes to current policies allowing transgender students to compete under the gender they identify as, local outlet KATU reported.


The investigation ended with Parks’ termination.

Parks told Fox News Digital on Monday he feels he was “vilified” for standing up for girls’ right to compete fairly.

“It’s kind of like a slap in the face to say, ‘I’ve fought for you, I’ve got girls scholarships to some of the best schools in the country – guys as well – and you’re tossing me aside because you’re saying I wrote a letter that you, after the fact, are saying was inappropriate hate and harassment because I was advocating for a change, for an opportunity to protect girls from this,'” he said of the school district.

“Everybody agrees, except for just a few officials and people that just don’t understand the issue,” he added.

According to KATU, Parks wrote to Wagner, calling for competition rules to be “aligned with what the rest of the world competes under,” particularly appearing to reference hormone testing by professional organizations like the International Olympic Committee.


Aside from insisting that he aimed to protect girls’ right to fair sports competitions, he argued that his ability to express his opinions to officials should be protected by the First Amendment. He also emphasized that he wants what’s best for everyone involved – including transgender competitors.

“I’m fully supportive of transgender rights and every other aspect,” he said.

In his letter to the OSAA, he called for creating an open division to be more inclusive, give transgender athletes a space to compete where they feel more welcomed and strive for victory without being met with hostility from spectators.

“We can create an open division for the transgender athletes, and I really think what that’s going to do is actually encourage more transgender kids to participate, because they won’t be feeling like, ‘If I go out, I’m going to face the hostility of being booed if I’m competing to my best of my abilities, and it’s an outlet for me to socialize with the other kids on my team… and get this opportunity to be out there without the hostility of having to face female athletes.’ Many transgender athletes recognize they have an advantage and they don’t want to take part because of that,” he told Fox News Digital.

“I think [establishing an open division would] be a very healthy thing,” he said.

Parks coached transgender athletes on his own team and told The Oregonian that he “support[s] them like all other athletes.”

He also said he had witnessed transgender athletes being booed for winning, adding that it doesn’t need to happen again.


Parks is appealing his termination and told Fox News Digital that the appeal had to be submitted by Wednesday.

“My attorneys are working with me on that,” he said.

Despite the controversy, Parks said he has been relieved to see so many members of the community coming together to support him.

“It’s been empowering to have all my athletes support me, parents support me, and they don’t even know what’s going on fully, but they know that they didn’t witness anything inappropriate, and I know that it’s an issue that they care deeply about and enough that they even set up a GoFundMe, so that’s been empowering. That kind of support.”

Fox News’ Chantz Martin contributed to this report.

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