VIRGINIA (WUSA9) -- As many as five high school debate teams in Virginia are boycotting the state finals because of comments made by Liberty University president Jerry Falwell.
They include Fairfax County High School teams from McLean, Lake Braddock and Hayfield and Loudoun County teams Briar Woods and Broad Run.
Broad Run's debate team has made it to the state finals every year for the past 25 years. They've won about half the time, according to coach Jim Dunning. But This year, the team is not going.
Neither are McLean high school juniors Jessica Boyer and Fatima Shabaz. Last week, they won first place at the Regionals competition.
"It's not OK to label an entire faith as terrorists, as violent, as extremists," said Shahbaz.
"There's a very strong dialogue going right now in the nation that Falwell is supporting with promoting these ideas of Islamaphobia. And we're hoping that...we and others helping us... can show that we need to create a dialogue that's against this," said Boyer.
The Virginia High School League runs the state debate competition and many athletic tournaments. The non-profit organization uses taxpayer money from public school systems to hold the competitions.
Last year, Fairfax County Public Schools paid $152,282.25 to the VHSL, Loudoun County Public Schools paid $70,262.23, and Arlington County paid $17,417.75.
"VHSL is a public non-profit institution our tax money goes towards. And if that institution can represent segments of the population like Muslim students who don't feel that Falwell's views support their own, I think that's an issue," said Shahbaz.
The VHSL has said it could not change the venue because of contractual obligations signed with Liberty. Shahbaz and Boyer will continue advocating for a change-of-venue next year.
"Debate States use to be held at UVA. It's a public institution. Academic Decathalon, Odyssey of the Mind, these are all things held at VCU. William and Mary. They're accredited public institutions," said Shahbbaz.
Jim Dunning, the coach of the Broad Run High School Debate Team, says the fact that Liberty allows guns and concealed weapons on campus is a problem for any public high school tournaments held there. He says permitting weapons goes against VHSL's own policy.
"A private college can certainly decide whether they allow concealed weapons on campus or even what their personal or public philosophies are. You wouldn't have that in the environment of a high school," said Dunning.
Liberty does not charge the VHSL a fee for using it's campus and buildings. But the people who want the tournament to be moved point out that the tournaments provide Liberty a huge benefit courtesy of the VHSL and taxpayer money. The private university gets to show off it's school and try to recruit some of the highest -achieving high school students.
Fatima and Jessica say they would've liked to have competed at the state level, but they have their sights set on a higher goal now. The partners have qualified in another league for a national competition in California.
The VHSL did not return an email or phone call.