In order to prohibit biological males from competing in Alaska’s high school sports designated specifically for girls, the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) needs to change its bylaws. That could happen this week, when the ASAA board of directors gathers in Anchorage for their fall meeting.
Since ASAA oversees high school athletics for the state, it is expected to conform with the State Education Board’s policies.
Currently, however, ASAA bylaws allow each school district to determine the so-called “gender-identity” of their athletes. If a district claims that a biological male identifies as a female, ASAA simply goes with the district’s determination. That’s no longer allowed under state policy, thanks to the Education Board’s Aug. 31 policy change, which explicitly states that participation on teams created for females will be limited to “females who were assigned female at birth.”
Following the Education Board’s vote, Chair James Fields stirred some controversy by suggesting that the ASAA board might be able to comply with the Education Board’s new policy by formally barring males from girls’ sports, but then creating a waiver to allow certain boys to skirt the policy, so long as they’ve undergone puberty blockers.
Nothing in the Education Board’s new policy, however, makes any mention of possible waivers or exceptions, and Fields’ was the only Education Board member to suggest the idea. Nevertheless, his comments could influence the way ASAA implements the new requirements at its upcoming meeting.
The bylaw issue is expected to generate considerable public testimony on both sides, as it did prior to the Board of Education’s vote this summer.
Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Alaska and other Democratic and left-leaning organizations have been encouraging LGBTQ activists to flood the ASAA board meeting with comments in favor of letting gender-confused males continue competing against high school girls.
These groups claim that certain Alaska school districts, such as Anchorage and Fairbanks, will need to change their current policies in order to prevent males who say they are transgender, from competing against females.
LGBTQ activists, such as State Senator Löki Gale Tobin (D-Anchorage), also assert that by changing its bylaws, the ASAA might lose certain school districts, which would then be ineligible to compete in statewide championships.
“What makes this so infuriating is that it is entirely unnecessary. Trans-girls are not pushing their way into high school sports seeking some sort of competitive advantage,” Sen. Tobin said in an Oct. 4 email intended to drum up testimony against the proposed changes. “Instead, trans girls are just like other high school students who are trying to find their way in an uncertain world. Many high school students find great comfort in athletics, and it is unfair to limit a student’s participation based on some outdated concept of gender.”
Alaska’s effort to address this issue follows on the heels of many other states that have also moved to protect women’s sports from biological males. To date, nearly half of all U.S. states have similar policies in place. These changes have come in part due to multiple instances in which biological males have shattered female records on the way to championships and titles that have squeezed out top female athletes in recent years.
Those supporting a change in Alaska policy say it’s necessary to protect both the integrity and safety of girls’ high school sports. They point to the fact that the physical advantages of males are established well before the onset of puberty.
A recent expert report on athletic performances of elementary-age boys and girls supports this. It found that, even by age six, boys have significant advantages in cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed, agility, and power tests. In the study, the boys outperformed girls at every age in measures of handgrip strength, long standing jump, 200-meter shuttle run, and oxygen consumption, which accounts for 30-40% of success in endurance sports.
Likewise, the idea that cross-sex hormones can somehow even the playing field is also highly questionable. According to the recent study, no amount of testosterone suppression in a male who has undergone natural puberty can eliminate significant advantages in arm or leg strength, running speed, muscle mass or bone structure and density. On average, there is around a 5% loss of muscle mass and strength, but that cannot reverse the 40-50% difference that typically exists between men and women. And even after two full years of testosterone suppression, the average male still runs much faster than his female counterpart.
— For more information about the upcoming meeting, click here.