Many of you have been begging me to file my bill from last year to protect girls’ sports (SB 140). Oh, did I ever want to, because I knew the matter of safety and fairness for all students needed to be settled. But I also knew the Senate President and Senate Majority had made it clear on more than one occasion that such “controversial” bills would not stand a chance of advancing to the Senate floor.

When I realized an alternative path forward existed and was possible, I was relieved. Our girls and young women in our schools in Alaska need to know that the doors to safe and fair athletic opportunities will continue to be wide open.

Girls play school sports for fun, exercise, and team relationships but they also play because they want to push themselves to improve their skills, because they discover that the heat of the competition challenges them to reach new levels, and because they love the sweet thrill of victory. Female athletes desire and expect their investment of time and hard work to pay off – and it should.

We need statewide policies to ensure they won’t be robbed of a spot on a roster, a chance on the court, an opportunity of a top ranking, or a shot at a scholarship. As parents, coaches, leaders, adults in our communities, we need to make sure female athletes in our schools have an even playing field, a track where they won’t face discrimination, a gymnasium where fairness isn’t relinquished and an athletic space where safety isn’t jeopardized.

Drawing the line in the sand now is important for our younger girls who are deciding whether they’re going to play sports and be serious about it.

When I knew I couldn’t get a bill through the Senate but realized that via Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) regulations (which grant authority to the Alaska School Athletic Association to administer interscholastic programs program fairly), we had a way forward, it was an understatement to say my concerns were allayed and I was elated. I was happy to provide support and assistance for the effort along the way.

Last Thursday, the Board of Education passed a resolution supporting ASAA to establish policy to ensure ongoing competitive fairness and safety, stating that the policy should provide both a girls’ division based on the student’s sex at birth and a co-ed division for students who identify with either sex or gender. The resolution stated in addition that the policy should provide an appeal process for all students.

I am thankful that the Board outlined the policy to ASAA. I’m also grateful they asked ASAA to establish the policy in time for schools statewide to know the way forward for the new school year in the fall.

Drawing the line in the sand now is important for our younger girls who are deciding whether they’re going to play sports and be serious about it. Female athletes need to know their work won’t be in vain. Coaches need policies set so they can focus on the team, on the training, on the game, to help the girls be the best they can be.

A small but loud group may be in opposition but a May 2022 Washington Post – University of Maryland poll showed only 3 in 10 Americans believe a transgender girl or woman should be permitted to participate in girls’ sports. Even after multiple years of transition hormone therapy, a biological male retains a bigger heart, a larger skeletal system, and greater muscle mass.

Three transgender females who wish to remain anonymous reached out to me while I was working on the girls’ sports bill last spring. They all agreed with my bill. Their premise was that a transgender female prioritizes acceptance by biological females and would not want to dominate them in sports or jeopardize their safety. They indicated they would not go public about their position for fear of reprisal, being cancelled, and being bullied. Those unhappy about the Board’s resolution should consider their perspective.

Those who are also worried about the impact of this proposal on transgender youth because of the high rate of mental health issues and suicide ideation need to understand that depression and suicide are on a sharp rise among teenage girls right now.

We shouldn’t solve a problem for one group by creating a problem for another group. We must value the lives of transgender youth and girls alike.

Creating a co-ed division is a solution that doesn’t create a new problem for female athletes. It is a good solution.

The policy proposed by the Board ensures EVERY STUDENT has equal opportunity: TWO OPTIONS. Every single student has two choices: either to be on a team aligned with their biological sex or be on a co-ed team. This is a reasonable solution (and is the same one that was in my bill last spring).

The views expressed here are those of the author.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

Safe & Fair: Thanks to Alaska Board of Education for resolution to protect girls’ sports

Shelley Hughes
Shelley Hughes serves as an Alaska state senator from Palmer.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    Great job Shelly. I’ve said from the first that boys need to compete with boys and girls with girls. It’s the only fair way. Now you’ve found a way to make them. That’s great. now find a way for them to stay in their own locker room too. boys don’t need to be in the girls locker rooms or bathrooms. I’m pleased with your finding and implementing this. Great job!

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    I am not trying to put Senator Hughes on the spot here, but this wording just strikes me wrong every time that I read it: “Oh, did I ever want to, because I knew the matter of safety and fairness for all students needed to be settled. But I also knew the Senate President and Senate Majority had made it clear on more than one occasion that such “controversial” bills would not stand a chance of advancing to the Senate floor.” I have mixed feelings on this. Why do we allow the Senate President and Senate Majority to behave like this? They are supposed to be working for the People. We need to move that damn capitol from Juneau back to Alaska’s main road system so that We The People will have better opportunity to be involved. I hate to hear one of our reps sounding like a push-over.

    • Elizabeth Henry says:

      Or at least the legislative session!

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Elizabeth, when the rest of the nation is going to their state capitols to protest issues, Alaskans have to do the best they can and agree on local government buildings to protest at. B.S. Let’s get the capitol on the main road system, so that Alaskans can go to their Capitol House also! The move was already approved years ago, but somehow the money never gets appropriated. Hmmm. Maybe because legislation is always too busy handing out money for their own projects and giving themselves payraises?

    • DaveMaxwell says:

      You Foh are keenly perceptive ! Excellent response and not like the typical sheeple! Ms hughes is in the game as much for herself as anything else! This type of “conservative person is doing more harm than good. They operate from a platform of expedience, not principle!! They operate from a platform of expedience, not principle!!! In the end they get $ and power, and the people get nothing, but drained!!!!
      Thank you for your observations!!!!

      • Mike Coons says:

        Dave, Shelley is in this fight, using her he’d, not her emotions. I have known her since she was a freshman in the House. She plays the long game and because of that she has many bills passed, both hers and others with her solid amendments that have had and are positively impacting all Alaskans. I know you and others will not like this, but unlike Lora Reinbolt and David Eastman who attack fellow conservatives and have, in David’s case zero bills and Lora with 1 bill actually passed!
        I understand that you attack people like Shelley, Cathy Tilton, etc, but are silent on the real RINO’s.
        I stand with prove fighters with a record of accomplishments. Not, as I saw David Eastman’s at this week’s Judiciary Committee all over the place and voting with Socialist Gray and Groh on terrible Amendments!

      • FREEDOM FRED says:

        She is the conservative party and one that stands on principle. You howeva’ are just more of same ol’ blah blah blah.

    • Shelley says:

      No push over here. I went to battle last year for our children and am not stopping. That’s why I didn’t waste my time going on a route with a dead end. It’s not giving up; it’s outsmarting and being strategic by finding a different path. The Senate Majority chairs of the committees are adamantly opposed and blocking bills like this. You’re correct, we shouldn’t stand for this behavior but the time to do that was at the polls. The voters put them in in 2022 and when they did, they gave these legislators this power and the chairs are now using it in 2023. I could have filed my bill and said “I’m not going to stand for their behavior” to “appear” like I’m a fighter while they blocked the bill or I could be a real fighter and work another avenue. I chose the latter.

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Thank you for participating in this conversation and for the additional information Senator Hughes. I agree that the snakes got in during the elections, but I wonder how many of them were elected and how many were “selected.” I know that there are only a couple of you that are actually working to save humanity while the rest of the scumbags are working with the demonrats. I am truly sorry that our good reps are having to go through all of this and I hope that you keep working for the good of the humanity even with the pressure all around you to cave in and vote with the demonrats. We will keep you in our prayers. God bless you.

  • kathleen shoop says:

    Good work Shelly! Thank you!

  • concerned AKcitizen says:

    Shelly, you are a true advocate for the people! Thank you! I believe you received direct strategy from on High! My question now is, how do “we the people” deal with and STOP this kind of power sweep from Senate President and Senate Majority? Honest question.

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    So, while we are being distracted by all this crap, the legislature is giving themselves a $34,000 salary increase??? WTH. Is this why we did not get our full dividends???
    “The Proposal to Buy Off Alaska Legislators with a $34,000/yr Salary Increase Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test”

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Wyoming becomes the 19th state to ban men from women’s sports!!! GOOD!

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Considering worm farming! After going to grocery store shopping is now a thing of the past! Selecting is now what we’re being forced to do. Looking for recipes to make worms and bugs taste better. Staying alive and healthy becomes more challenging as greed by our overseers becomes intentionally persistent!

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    In our country freedom has been hijacked! Do we really need a bill written by Shelly hughes regarding a boy fantasying about a shapely well developed girl while he is in the same steamy shower with her in our schools!? Shelly has surrendered whatever sensibilities she had to the demonic unthinking all feeling gods of this age! She is not the only one guilty of this crime! Dunleavy also has but will not use the power given to him to dictate in cases like this! And demand this will not be tolerated! Unfortunately where there are no underlying morals, the tolerance expands and the eternal bickering ensues while the boy enjoys , the girl is abused!!!

  • Michael Chambers says:

    Dave Maxwell, are you attempting to make a point about genders and inherant differences or are you simply attempting to argue with the good senator because you have an urge to be recognized?

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Cut the crap ms hughes! You are not a fighter! You are a politician!!! I’d like to say even a bit stupid in terms of street smarts! You think “outsmarting “ the opposition is what will be an effective strategy to what? To get you more money and elected again! Tired of the trench that has been traveled and deepened by same o’l politicians. Then your infamous standby statement “it’s the voters fault”! Infuriating ms hughes! Surely the election’s are pure as gold in this damn state! Nothing to see here, so no you can’t have a forensic audit even if you demand it! Politicians like you have given me pause and I now have 0 faith in any part of the system! Maybe you ought to consult with senator shower who you say you respect and maybe he will tell you what he told me. The problem is not the people who are coerced into paying your ever increasing wages for accomplishing nothing! Thank you for trying!!!?

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Be recognized????????? What the hell mr chambers! How’d ya like that, you just got recognized! According to the constitution if you believe in that, the very first amendment is freedom of speech! Recommend you avail yourself to it! I’m stating legally and what is rightfully mine to do! Ms hughes has the obligation as a senator to hear it even though it’s not flattering!
    By the way are you a relative of the “good “senator???

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Shower’s statement to me was burn it down

  • Mike Clayton Coons says:

    Dave Maxwell likes to attack Shelley Hughes, but not a word about Bert Stedman, Gary Steven’s, Click Bishop and the other RINO’s. Not a word about how they have turned on real conservatives like Shelley, Mike Shower, Bob Myers, who had the courage to not play their games.
    Friend of Humanity is just as bad. Demanding this and that, yet not acknowledging that these last several elections, the far left voters have voted for the Socialist’s and the RINO’s. We can’t move the Capitol to the road system if we have elected people in the House and Senate that refuse to do so!
    I am so tired of the back stabbers that have no clue about how to fight the smart fight and win! The bottom line is we must get quality candidates before the voters and that mean ONE PER RACE! We have to know that so long as RCVing is what we must deal with, that we must know now to use it to our advantage! Even before RCV, we had 7 people run against David Wilson, David WON! There was an excellent choice at that time, he would have won if all the votes for all the other wanna-be’s had just not jammed up the race!
    I fight against the Socialists and I calll them out as Socialists. I fight against the RINO’s and call them out as such as well! I testify at committee hearings, yet so many times we are outnumbered because conservatives don’t take the time to do so! Yet in forums like this, we have the far right wasting bandwidth attacking the real fighters! I am hoppy that so many are supporting the right people but I call on all to ignore and/or fight back against the likes of Dave and “Humanity” who attack either as trolls or as far, far right, which is just as bad as the Matt Claman’s, Bert Stedmans, and so many other Socialist’s and RINO’s!

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Mike, I have no problem with your political stances and your perseverance to uphold conservatives values. Please do not label me as a backstabber because I am in the good fight just as you are. We have a differing view on Rep. Eastman. I understand that things got heated; but Rep Eastman has been attacked over and over and over when he is standing for what his People want. He has been a vocal advocate for election integrity. When I see McCabe rolling his eyes in the background while Eastman has the floor, it shows me how unprofessional things are going. As for Senator Hughes, people like her or don’t like her. I know that she has been working on bills to help humanity. I questioned her wording and her ability to stand strong. Given the fact that so many reps are two-faced, it is good to have a reminder where our reps stand. As for David Wilson, I sures to heck did not vote for him. Thank you for standing up for Senator Hughes and for the reality check. I am in the fight for humanity to exist just as you are. I won’t speak for Dave, except to say that I believe that his heart is in the right place also.

      • Michael C Coons says:

        I hate doing this on my phone, spelling errors!
        Kevin McCabe Cathy, Sarah, George and so many others have fought for Election integrity. Mike Shower has fought the good fight, sadly with little support from so many that sat on the sidelines. Yet David continued to backstab so many.
        I do hope he changes his viewpoints and actions one day soon.

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Mike, thank you for the reply. I am not going to continue discussing about reps on this board. We all have certain ones that we like and dislike. It sounds like both you and I agree that the main thing that we should all be focusing on is unity on issues. ALL people are going to have to bend a little in their thinking in order for us to work together in a productive manner. That is one thing about the left that they have going for them – they have been together on issues; unlike them, we do not take bribes or pay-offs, so maybe it is a little harder to create that unified effort! You are a true warrior in this fight Mike and I do appreciate that. Hopefully, everyone can cool their heels and think about the end game here.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Mike, waiting for my response to your comment to be approved. I hope that you will take the time to read my comment when it gets posted.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Mr coons is calling all to fight back against DaveMaxwell and Foh! I suggest to you mr coons to swallow your out of control arrogance! Got to wonder where we would be if we all surrendered to this type of control freak! Look at your constitution again fella and you will encounter freedom to voice your opinion comes with citizenship!!!

    • Michael C Coons says:

      hey Dave, I am not just a citizen of this nation but served her for 20 years. So my citizenship has been earned far more than you.
      Your vitriol is is against true conservatives, not right wing radicals to the far right of even John Birch.
      yet, you refuse to fight against the real RINO’S and those Socialists that want to take over our nation.
      My understanding of and supporting our Constitution has what I have done my entire life, from Nam, to Desert Storm, then throw conting to learn from people that are a lot smarter than me, like Shelley Hughes!
      Mess with Shelley and so many other in this fight with smarts and conviction, and you mess with the wrong guys!

      • DaveMaxwell says:

        And somehow the story line has turned towards you and how important you are and what you’ve done! ??? This is not the place to get your needs for recognition met!
        Good day

  • Michael C Coons says:

    I have supported Eastman since he was first elected. I liked his spanking and drive. Yet he turned on his fellow conservatives, this year, sadly he has said ir done little that I can support. It is sad, he has so much potential, like Lora did, but he has turned his back on those.
    I ask, have you talked to Shelley? Cathy Tilton, Sarah Vance? If not, I encourage you to do so with an open mind. I have learned so much from them and so many others. This is a fight of using our starts. being cool under fire and backing each other for one goal, to win against the Socialists take over!

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    I’m uninterested in your response or games mrcoons! I began and continue to call out my senator! She is not yours and your nose is in business it doesn’t belong!