After listening to roughly two hours of public hearings on a proposal to prohibit biological males who identify as female from competing against high school girl athletes, the Alaska Board of Education unanimously voted on June 8 to move the proposal to a 30-day public comment period.
Once the public comment period opens, Alaskans will be able to email the education board regarding their thoughts about the proposed regulation changes. After the public comment period ends, the Department of Education and Early Development will either adopt the proposed regulation changes without further notice, or decide to take no action. The language of the final regulation may be different from that of the proposed regulation. Before becoming law, a review of regulations is done by the Department of Law, after which the package is sent to the Lt. Governor’s Office for a final inspection. The regulation becomes effective 30 days after the Lt. Governor signs off.
If adopted, the proposed changes would direct the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA), which oversees high school athletic competitions in Alaska, to bar gender-confused biological males from participating in female-only competitions. It would also require the ASAA to offer a co-ed division, in which girls could attempt to compete against males if they choose to do so.
Currently, each individual school is allowed to make a “gender determination” regarding a student’s sex. ASAA simply accepts – without challenge – whatever each school determines, which means gender-confused biological males who claim to be female have been allowed to compete against girls. Anchorage and Fairbanks are the two largest districts that allow for this, while the Mat-Su expressly prohibits biological males from competing on all-girls teams.
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Bob Griffin, who serves on the State Board of Education, said the June 8 public hearing and written comments were overwhelmingly in favor of prohibiting biological males from competing against girls.
The hearing, he said, was punctuated by a number of female athletes who spoke in favor of the proposal due to the unfair physical advantage that males have when it comes to athletic competition.
“People understand that this is not fair to our girls,” Griffin said. “We don’t make any judgements towards how people choose to express themselves, but this is clearly an issue of fairness.”
While some who oppose the change said transgender athletes are not currently dominating girls sports, Griffin said part of the education board’s role is to address issues before they become problematic.
“It is our responsibility to anticipate potential problems, rather than wait until it is a problem,” he said.
Griffin noted that testimony and emails shared during the June 8 meeting will not be included in the materials gathered once the 30-day public comment period begins. In order for those perspectives to be included, they must be resubmitted. The Watchman will alert Alaskans when the public comment period opens.
— Click here to read the proposed regulation changes.