Alaska Board of Education asks state to ban transgender sports

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Board of Education has unanimously approved a resolution calling on the state to limit the participation of transgender girls in girls’ high school sports.

The resolution, passed Thursday, calls for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to create two athletic divisions, one for female athletes and one for students of all genders, according to Anchorage Daily News.

The resolution was added to the board’s agenda at the last minute at the end of a three-day meeting in Juneau. It was unanimously supported by eight members, while the student councilor abstained.

Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska School Activities Association, said the resolution was in line with what members of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration had previously discussed with him. He said they want to create three divisions: boys, girls and one joint division that will allow transgender athletes.

Strickland said there are not enough transgender athletes in Alaska to accommodate the third division. In fact, he said that in his nine years of running the association, he only knew of one transgender athlete.

An emailed statement from Dunleavy’s office on Friday said girls playing in same-sex leagues must play against other girls.

“If a person who was born male but feels out of place playing sports in a league with boys just because of their gender identity, the solution is not to let them compete with girls, but to increase coeducational opportunities. the statement says. “The time has come to seriously think about co-ed interscholastic sports so that all students can compete at the highest level.”

Only the Matanuska-Susitna County School Board in Alaska has restricted the participation of transgender athletes, Strickland said. School boards or districts set their own policy, and most have not considered this issue. Girls already often play alongside boys on some football or hockey teams.

A message requesting a copy of the resolution from the state council was not immediately returned Friday to the Associated Press. But a copy obtained by the Anchorage newspaper called on the activity association to protect “the integrity of the high school girl sport.”

“We’re making a statement that sports for girls should be safe, competitive and fair, that’s all,” Chairman James Fields told Daily News.

State Senator Leukie Tobin, an Anchorage Democrat who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said she is concerned the board has violated its requirement to allow the public to weigh resolutions before voting. She also expressed concern that the resolution could violate the right to privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution.

The Legislature can withdraw proposed rules for any state department.

“My primary concern is that I’m the chairman of the Senate Public Education Policy Committee,” Tobin said. “I’m concerned that the process was simply not being followed and that we were unable to provide our public comment on the matter.”

Earlier this month, Dunleavy proposed a bill that would require students to use restrooms and locker rooms according to their gender assigned at birth, the paper said. Parental permission will also be required for students to change their name or the pronouns they use at school. The legislature did not vote on the bill.

Another bill, which would reserve sports sections for boys and girls and create a separate section for co-education, was also not considered.

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

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