Alaska Board of Education urges state to exclude trans athletes from gender-nonaligned sports at birth
The Alaska State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution urging the state to allow only biological girls to participate in women’s sports – recommending a separate league for athletes who don’t not identify with their birth sex.
The resolution, which was added to the board’s agenda at the last minute, advises the Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to create separate divisions. All eight members supported him while the student councilor abstained.
A copy of the resolution obtained by the Anchorage Daily News showed board members agreed that “the integrity of middle school and high school girls’ sports should be upheld.”
“We’re making a statement to keep women’s sports safe, competitive and fair, that’s all,” board chairman James Fields told The Daily News via The Associated Press.
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Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska School Activities Association, said the resolution was similar to what he had been offered in previous discussions by members of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.
Strickland said they wanted to create three divisions — boys, girls and a co-ed division that would allow transgender athletes — but he said Alaska doesn’t have enough transgender athletes to host a third division. He also said he only knew one in the nine years he led the ASAA.
A statement from Dunleavy’s office to the AP on Friday stressed that girls playing in single-sex leagues should play against other girls.
“If a person who was born male but feels out of place in a league with boys solely because of their gender identity, the solution is not to allow them to compete against girls, but to increase co-ed opportunities,” the statement said. “It’s time to seriously consider co-ed interscholastic sports so that all students can compete at their highest level.”
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Strickland said school boards and districts set their own policies, and the Matanuska-Sasitna Borough School Board is the only group limiting trans athlete participation in Alaska at this time. Most others did not address the issue, although girls are allowed to play alongside boys on some football and hockey teams.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Löki Tobin, a Democrat from Anchorage, expressed concern that the council violated its duty to allow the public to weigh in on resolutions before a vote, said reported the AP.
She was also concerned that the resolution violated the privacy clause of the state Constitution.
“I’m concerned primarily because I’m the chairman of the Senate State Education Policy Committee,” Tobin said. “I’m concerned that process was simply not followed and we were unable to provide our public comments on this matter.”
The AP added that the legislature has the ability to revoke proposed regulations for any state department.
Earlier in March, the governor proposed a bill requiring students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their biological sex. The bill would also require parental approval if students wanted to change their names or the pronouns used at school. Lawmakers have yet to vote on this bill.
Another bill that would create a mixed athletic division separate from the boys’ and girls’ leagues also went unheard.
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The Alaska State Senate has said it will avoid divisive issues this session, including any legislation related to LGBTQ+ people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.