After receiving more than 1,300 written comments and listening to more than two and a half hours of public testimony, the Alaska State Board of Education chose to delay making a final decision on whether to ban gender-confused biological males from participating in girls high school sports.
The July 26 education board meeting included passionate testimony on a proposed rule change that seeks to clarify that girls sports are reserved for biological females.
Opponents of the proposed change included activist groups Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Alaska, along with many public school teachers and principals. Most of these written and oral testimonies – many of which were submitted through a boilerplate form letter – claimed that males who think they are females should be encouraged and supported in their beliefs, even if that means letting physically stronger and faster boys compete as though they were girls.
“Trans girls are girls,” was a commonly repeated phrase throughout the testimonies.
Supporters of the proposed change pointed out that letting gender-confused males compete in girls’ sports undermines the integrity and safety of female athletics. They also noted that girls stand to lose out on opportunities to compete for championships and earn scholarships if their division is opened up to biological males.
Education board member Lorri Van Diest summarized the debate towards the end of the July 26 meeting.
“I can’t say I really appreciated the hatred and name calling that was directed at me,” she said, adding that the main division centered on two differing values. On the one hand, transgender activists want to affirm biological males who believe they are female. On the other hand, advocates for girls’ sports are asking the state to uphold safety and fairness in female-only competitions.
Ultimately, the board decided to postpone a final decision in order to process the mountain of letters and comments. The board will hold a special meeting in the near future to hold a final vote. Van Diest said she wants the meeting to take place “sooner rather than later.”
Board member Jeff Erickson agreed, saying the board needs to demonstrate due diligence in taking “a good look” at all of the concerns raised on both sides.
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If the board approves the proposed change, it would then be reviewed by the Alaska Department of Law and sent to the Lt. Governor’s Office for final inspection. The new regulation would become 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.