Alaska board of education calls on state to ban transgender sports

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ANCHORAGE, AK — Alaska’s board of education unanimously passed a resolution urging the state to limit the participation of transgender girls in girls’ school sports.

The resolution passed Thursday calls for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to create two sports divisions, one for athletes whose assigned sex at birth is female and the other for students of all genders, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The resolution was added to the board’s agenda at the last minute at the end of a three-day meeting in Juneau. It had the unanimous support of all eight members, with the student advisor abstaining.

Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska School Activities Association, said the resolution is very much in line with what members of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration discussed with him earlier. He said they wanted to create three divisions: boys, girls, and a co-ed division that would allow transgender athletes.

Strickland said there aren’t enough transgender athletes in Alaska to accommodate a third division. In fact, he said he’s only known one transgender athlete in the nine years he’s run the association.

An emailed statement from Dunleavy’s office on Friday said girls who play in single-sex leagues should play against other girls.

“If a person who was born a boy feels out of place playing a sport 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 is time to seriously consider co-ed interscholastic sports so that all students can compete at their highest level.”

Only the Matanuska-Susitna Township School Board in Alaska has limited the participation of transgender athletes, Strickland said. School boards or districts set their policy and most have not addressed the issue. Girls already frequently play alongside boys on some soccer or hockey teams.

A message seeking a copy of the state board’s resolution was not immediately returned to The Associated Press on Friday. But a copy obtained by the Anchorage newspaper urged the activities association to protect “the integrity of high school girls’ sports.”

“We’re making a statement to keep girls’ sports safe, competitive and fair, that’s all,” board chairman James Fields told the Daily News.

State Sen. Löki Tobin, an Anchorage Democrat who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said she was concerned the board would violate its requirement to allow the public input on resolutions before a vote. She also expressed concern that the resolution could violate the right to privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution.

The Legislature can repeal proposed regulations for any state department.

“I’m primarily concerned because I’m the chairman of the Senate state policy committee for education,” Tobin said. “I am concerned that the process was simply not followed and that we were unable to provide our public comment on this issue.”

Dunleavy earlier this month proposed a bill that would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their sex assigned at birth, the newspaper reported. It would also require parental approval for students to change their name or the pronouns they use at school. The Legislature has not voted on the bill.

Another bill that would reserve the sports divisions for boys and girls and create a separate division for co-education has also not been heard.

The Alaska State Senate has a bipartisan majority and has said it will avoid this session on divisive issues, including those related to LGBTQ+ people.

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