The Alaska State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to ask the state to allow only biological girls to participate in girls’ sports, recommending a separate league for athletes who do not identify with their birth sex.
The resolution, which was added to the board’s agenda at the last minute, advises Alaska Early Education and Development to create separate divisions. Eight members agreed while the student counsel abstained.
A copy of the resolution obtained by the Anchorage Daily News showed where board members recognized that “the integrity of middle and high school girls’ sports must be preserved.”
“We’re making a statement to keep girls’ sports safe and competitive and fair, that’s all,” James Fields told the Daily News via The Associated Press.
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Alaska State Capitol Building, Juneau, interior legislative chamber. (Educational Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska School Activities Association, said the resolution is similar to what members of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration have proposed to him in previous debates.
Strickland said they wanted to create three divisions – a co-ed division that would allow boys, girls and transgender athletes – but said Alaska does not have enough transgender athletes to accommodate a third division. He also said that he was aware of only one in the nine years he has led the ASAA.
Dunleavy’s office insisted in a statement to the AP on Friday that girls playing in single-sex leagues should play against other girls.
“If you are born male but feel out of place playing a sport with boys just because of your gender identity, the solution is not to let them compete against girls, but to increase co-educational opportunities. “said the statement. “It is time to seriously consider interscholastic sports so that all students can compete at their highest level.”
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Demonstrators listen to the speech program “Our bodies, our sports” in a rally, IX. title’s 50th anniversary at Freedom Plaza on June 23, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Strickland said school boards and districts set their own policies, and the Matanuska-Sasitna Borough School Board is currently the only body in Alaska that limits the participation of trans athletes. Most others have not addressed the issue, although girls are allowed to play alongside boys on some football and hockey teams.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, expressed concern that the board violated the requirement that citizens review resolutions before voting, the AP reported.
He also worried the resolution might violate the state Constitution’s right-to-privacy clause.
“I’m especially concerned because I’m the chairman of the state Senate education policy committee,” Tobin said. “I am concerned that the process was not followed, and that we were not able to provide our public comments on this matter.”
AP added that the legislature has the power to overturn proposed regulations for any state department.
Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In early March, the governor proposed a bill that would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their biological sex. The bill would also require parental approval if students want to change the name or pronouns used in school. Members of Parliament have not yet voted on this bill.
Another bill that would create a co-ed sports department separate from the boys’ and girls’ leagues has not been heard.
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The Alaska State Senate has said it will steer clear of divisive issues this session, which includes any legislation related to LGBTQ+ people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.