The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) postponed action to impose severe penalties on any student athlete who uses certain words deemed “hate speech.”

The item was up for discussion at the Feb. 22 ASAA board meeting but it was tabled until board members can get a better handle on exactly why Alaska high school sports need a new hate speech ban. According to ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland, the board also wanted more information about how repeated violations would be handled, and what sort of training courses students should take to correct their behavior.

The proposal requires students to complete a sportsmanship course aimed at reforming their ways before they can resume competition.

Other items the board sought to explore included reviewing how officials are currently dealing with unsportsmanlike conduct, developing an appeal process for students deemed sufficiently guilty of hate speech, and considering how to create a pre-season educational program to ensure athletes complied with the speech rules.

Hate speech policies are fraught with legal and social controversy, and the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution,” and as such they do not lose their First Amendment rights in a school setting. Critics of hate speech policies contend that they are often used to ban protected speech, such as expressing opinions on controversial moral or religious ideas that pertain to sexuality, gender identity or other hot-button issues.

That does not mean students can say anything.

In a 1999 Supreme Court case alleging student harassment, the court said the harassment must be so “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, that it effectively bars the victims’ access to an educational opportunity or benefit.” The opinion explicitly requires that the harassment be judged by an objective standard that meets all three criteria (“severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive”).

As written, ASAA’s draft policy aims to “Institute more severe consequences for an athlete who persists in “behavior aimed at a person’s sex, gender identification, race, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or disability that substantially interferes with a students’ school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment.”

The policy makes no mention of comments aimed at other qualities such as a person’s weight, physical appearance, economic or educational status, political or social beliefs or other characteristics. It also fails to identify exactly what sort of comments or actions are prohibited.

Practically speaking officials would be required to immediately eject anyone who violates the policy. If a referee fails to hear an offending comment, students are urged to quickly alert their coaches, point out the person who belittled them, and recount exactly what they found hurtful. Coaches must then immediately tell the official.

“The official will then inform the other head coach of the accusation,” the policy states. “The official shall also notify ASAA with 24 hours of ALL situations in which hate speech or harassment was suspected.”

The proposed policy requires students to complete a sportsmanship course aimed at reforming their ways before they can resume competition.

School administrators are required to meet with alleged offenders and victims and investigate the situation to determine if the accused is guilty.

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ASAA tables plan to punish Alaska student athletes for ‘hate speech’

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Michael S Totten says:

    So basically you can’t say anything that may remotely hurt someone’s feelings. GOT IT!. well I don’t think my kids will be playing sports with your whimpy kids anymore

    • Wayne Coogan says:

      GOT IT! You are raising bullies to emulate yourself.

      • Sven Grando says:

        It is very interesting that you would rather legislate children and their behavior. Instead of, as many have said, we enforce a positive message and good sportsmanship. The weak of the world cower behind the gun of government. GOT IT! I think I have read about your ideal, in a book, about the great Russian experiments of the early 20th century. Is this why Alaksa is falling? Perhaps why America is falling so far behind the world? As individuals like yourself usher in the protection of lowest common denominator and force everyone into that hole.

  • Carrie Harris says:

    Kids have a right to an education, not a right to play sports. Theirs nothing wrong Withing making kids be civil, but that doesn’t mean they have to be friends or afraid to express their opinions with out calling names. What they are trying to do goes to far, kids that are bullied need to stand up for them selves and if they are standing up to a bully realize they may need to throw a punch, if they don’t they will never stand up for them selves.

    • Wayne Coogan says:

      Your comment is logical…. only in the sense that, being female, its unlikely you have ever dealt with the same level of threat males must deal with. For a male to, as you say, “stand up for himself” he runs the real risk of getting teeth knocked out, permanent eye injury, etc. Unlike females, males must deal with the omnipresent threat of physical violence when interacting with bullies. You may notice that school shooters are exclusively wimpy males.

  • Jim Scott says:

    This is solely focused on advocation and indoctrination toward forced acceptance of degeneracy. Genuine concerns toward bullying is being hijacked like degenerate agenda’s always do. Evil’s main diet is young minds.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Good grief, serious micromanaging, and relativistic at that. How about simply teaching general good sportsmanship, preferably coming from the coach with their own team. So much comes to mind here from my own upbringing. My mother used to remind us regularly, if one cannot say something kindly then don’t say anything at all. Another common adage she used to repeat is the ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’. Not that words can’t hurt, we know the can, but one should realize it is the offender that really has the problem hence make effort to simply just ignore them as ‘boorish’. Another old but useful term. Lastly, imagine if everyone considered ‘the preciousness of others’ as ultimately put forth by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:36-40….’love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
    Our schools for decades used to carry the secular version of this on classroom walls in the form of the ‘Golden Rule’ – ‘Treat others as you would like them to treat you. How far we have slid as our nation has completely turned from God.

  • G Aleution says:

    I was called everything in the book. I lived through it. Loved it. Laughed at it. It was fun!

  • Ruth Ewig says:

    Hate speech is a label for anyone who disagrees. It is a means of violating the First amendment guaranteed to each individual to speak out. Hate speech is a socialist concept not a Rule of Law application. Hate speech is what is termed by big brother social justice not to be confused with Biblical justice. Hate speech is renamed Social justice which is in fact Big Brother and unlawful. The name will keep changing to misdirect us.

  • G Aleution says:

    In eight grade civics class they referred to this hazing as a right of passage into the nation. Everybody is something. It’s part of Americanization. If you didn’t make to eighth grade you probably don’t understand. Everybody is something! “Hey! Shorty!” “What!”

    • Wayne Coogan says:

      Right, I remember a guy was thrown off a bridge for high school initiation (hazing). He didn’t make it through that rite (not right) of passage. He died.

  • Wayne Coogan says:

    The real problem is, for some inexplicable reason, teen-agers are immune to the law. If an adult bullies anyone with harrassment, threats, or actual violence then he faces criminal charges (including felony). If teen-agers were held accountable the nonsense may subside.

  • Nanook says:

    Sounds like gov. is interfering in the lives of children to construct their narratives for their own agenda….Sounds just like communist control to get everyone in line….Id say girls, if you have to wrestle a sissy boy then take the foul and knock the balls off……if they grab you inappropriately then claim sexual assault…..will ASAA protect you in your sport or the gender mental case….