The Alaska State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday urging the state to allow only biological girls to participate in girls’ sports — and recommending a separate league for athletes who don’t identify with their birth sex.
The resolution, which was put on the board’s agenda at the last minute, advises the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to create separate departments. All eight members supported him, while the student advisor abstained.
A copy of the decision obtained from the Anchorage Daily News, where board members acknowledge that “the integrity of junior high and high school girls’ sport should be preserved.”
“We are making a statement to keep girls’ sport safe, competitive and fair, that’s all,” Chief Executive James Fields told Daily News via The Associated Press.
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Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska School Activities Association, said the resolution is similar to what had been proposed to him in previous discussions by members of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.
Strickland said they wanted to create three divisions — boys, girls, and a mixed division that would allow transgender athletes — but he said Alaska didn’t have enough transgender athletes to accommodate a third division. He also said that he only knew one in the nine years that he has led the ASAA.
A statement from Dunleavy’s office to The AP on Friday stressed that girls playing in same-sex leagues should play against other girls.
“If a person who was born a male but feels out of place because of their gender identity playing in an all-boys league, the solution is not to allow them to compete against girls, but rather to allow them more opportunities to compete together create learning. “, the statement said. “It’s time to seriously consider interscholastic mixed sports so that all students can compete at their highest level.”
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Strickland said school boards and counties set their own guidelines, and the Matanuska-Sasitna Borough School Board is the only group currently restricting trans athlete participation in Alaska. Most others have not addressed the issue, although girls are allowed to play alongside boys on some football and hockey teams.
Senate Education Committee chair Sen. Loki Tobin, an Anchorage Democrat, raised concerns that the board had violated its requirement to allow the public to comment on resolutions before a vote, The AP reported.
She was also concerned that the resolution might violate the privacy clause of the state constitution.
“I’m particularly concerned because I’m the chair of the state Senate Education Committee,” Tobin said. “I am concerned that the process has simply not been followed and that we have not been able to make our public comment on the matter.”
The AP added that lawmakers have the ability to repeal proposed regulations for any State Department.
In early March, the governor proposed a bill that would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their sex. The bill would also require parental consent if students wished to change their name or pronouns used at school. Legislators have not yet voted on this bill.
Another bill that would create a mixed sports division separate from the boys’ and girls’ leagues also went unheard.
The Alaska State Senate has said it will stay away from contentious issues, which include legislation related to LGBTQ+ people, this session.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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