A board member of a non-profit in Alaska typically does not expect to be bombarded and contacted by hundreds of people, some of whom are very stern and even angry. I’m used to that, but they aren’t. I signed up to run for office and hear from large numbers of people who are upset, frustrated, and sometimes full of vitriol. That comes with the territory as an elected official. A board member, not so much.
Yet, I think that is likely what the Board of Directors of the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) will be facing. On May 1-2, ASAA will deliberate on a policy to ensure safety and fairness for girls and young women in school sports. Members of the public will be weighing in, and I am guessing it won’t be pretty.
I suspect this because I have been hearing from those advocating for the right for biological males to participate on girls’ and women’s teams for over a year. For the most part, their written and phone communications with me have been angry and harsh, accusing me of transphobia (not true), attempting to blame me for the disturbing mental health conditions of these precious and confused youth. Their remarks are often sprinkled with name-calling and ugly, if not foul, language.
“It is important to understand the emotions surrounding an issue, but they should not rule the day.”
When these passionate advocates have confronted me in-person, they’ve moved into my personal space, raised their voices, and used threatening tones. I have managed thus far to remain calm and help the individuals de-escalate, but it hasn’t been without my heart pounding hard inside my chest. The level of vitriol some of advocates carry is unlike anything I have seen on other issues, except perhaps from pro-abortion activists.
I share all this because I am concerned these intimidation tactics – essentially bullying – will be tough for ASAA board members, and I don’t want them to get cold feet.
The board members will need to focus on the facts, on reason and logic, on the safety and fairness for females, on the clear differences between the male and female body types, on the data that shows that even after multiple years of testosterone suppression therapy, biological males’ hearts are still more massive, their oxygen flow is still an advantage, their bone structure is still larger, and their muscle mass, though diminished due to the hormone therapy, is still 5%-7% greater than a female’s.
“Shaming and cancelling will be their M.O. and ASAA board members need to be prepared for it, recognize it when it happens, and resist it.”
The board members will have to stand guard to not be tugged in a policy direction by emotion. It is important to understand the emotions surrounding an issue, but they should not rule the day.
Those who support males on females’ teams will tell the ASAA that, as board members, they will be responsible for increased depression and suicide for those with gender dysphoria if they set a policy based on biological sex. The advocates will try hard to lay future blame on them. The truth is that depression rates and suicide ideation are already troubling among these youth absent the sports issue, and it is access to mental health services and the care and support of loving families and friends that will help these young people be affirmed, know they are valued, and know they are accepted and loved – not some policy that is discriminating against girls and women.
The truth is that depression rates and suicide ideation are also trending alarmingly upward among teenage girls. Trying to address mental health issues for a small group of confused youth through a policy that is unfair and unsafe for girls not only fails to solve the depression and suicide issue for the small group, but it exacerbates the depression and suicide problem for the entire teenage female group, while also creating unfair and unsafe conditions for girls, which rob them of opportunities. Trying to fix one problem by creating another is clearly not the answer, especially when the attempt won’t work anyway.
As mentioned previously, we don’t want the board members to get cold feet. That’s where you and I come in.
If some of those busy Alaskans don’t wake up to what’s happening, our girls and young women may suffer for it
It’s incredibly important that we take the time to encourage the ASAA board to keep the end-goal in mind: fairness and safety for girls. Co-ed opportunities can be a great solution to the present challenge we face.
Let’s encourage the board to stand strong in the face of intimidation and bullying and attempts to entangle them in a web of emotion and guilt.
Let’s encourage them to understand these tactics are used because the advocates who are pushing for male access to girls’ teams don’t have a logical basis for their argument. The data doesn’t support their position. Shaming and cancelling will be their M.O. and ASAA board members need to be prepared for it, recognize it when it happens, and resist it.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
Let’s encourage the ASAA board to do the right thing respectfully and civilly, with kindness and gratitude for their service, and with applause for their commitment to ensure girls do not face discrimination but retain equal opportunities to participate and excel in sports.
Most importantly, let’s be sure to encourage them – period! Let’s not neglect emailing them, calling in to testify, and weighing in to support a clear line in the sand to protect girls on the field and on the court.
And let’s not forget that the policy they will be setting will have ramifications as far as protecting girls’ dignity and privacy in the locker room, the showers, and the bathrooms, while they participate in sports, not to mention the sleeping arrangements when teams travel for away-games.
In closing, please be very, very aware that the group that will step up to push pro-biological male participation in girls’ sports is already organized and activated. They have been out in full force opposing the governor’s common-sense bill regarding parental rights and school bathrooms based on biological sex. At best the group may consist of a few thousand dedicated to the cause, but they are loud and coordinated while the literally tens of thousands of Alaskans who, if asked, would totally support the governor’s bill, are busy with life and responsibilities and are not weighing in.
If some of those busy Alaskans don’t wake up to what’s happening, our girls and young women may suffer for it. Please, please talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors, and co-workers and give them the information below to lend their voice to protect our young female athletes.
— A request to provide public comment supporting protection of girls’ sports at their May 1 public testimony time (9:15 a.m.) MUST be received by 12 noon on Thursday, April 27. Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Written public comments can also be emailed to email@example.com. You can find the call-in information and the agenda here for the May 1-2 ASAA meeting.
— Public comments are limited to no more than three minutes per speaker. Those wishing to speak should begin by stating and spelling their name. Speakers should refrain from singling out specific Board members or using inappropriate language. In order to have their comments included in the Board minutes, the speaker will need to submit a written copy to firstname.lastname@example.org within one business day.
— Call in early but also plan ahead to wait patiently in a large queue for what could be hours.
The views expressed here are those of the author.