A sign opposing the participation of trans girls in girls sports is propped against a fire hydrant outside of the George A. Navarre Admin Building on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. The Alaska Board of Education met in the building to discuss a resolution that would ban trans girls from girls high school sports. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign opposing the participation of trans girls in girls sports is propped against a fire hydrant outside of the George A. Navarre Admin Building on Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. The Alaska Board of Education met in the building to discuss a resolution that would ban trans girls from girls high school sports. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

State board of ed to take up transgender sports issue Thursday

The board will consider whether or not to separate cisgender girls, other student athletes

The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development will convene remotely for a special meeting on Thursday to consider proposed changes to the way Alaska regulates interscholastic activities with regard to transgender students.

Per a press release from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, the board will not hear public comments on the topic during its Thursday meeting. The group during their June 8 meeting in Soldotna voted to open a public comment period on the topic.

The policy being considered would update the section of Alaska Administrative Code that governs interscholastic activities.

Under the proposed policy, the code would be updated to say that Alaska schools and school districts may join eligible activities associations, like the Alaska School Activities Association, as long as those associations ensure only students assigned female at birth participate in girls high school athletics teams.

In consideration of responses to a school survey, schools or school districts would need to create separate athletic categories for cisgender girls — whose gender identifies match the sex they were assigned at birth — and other student athletes when participating in interscholastic activities in Alaska.

The new regulation would define athletics as competitive or contact sports, as determined by the association. Currently, ASAA regulates the participation of trans athletes in Alaska high school sports on a case-by-case basis.

Among the groups that spoke out in favor of separating cisgender female athletes from other student athletes was the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. That group in July voted 6-2 in support of a resolution formally stating their support for the proposed changes.

Between June 21 and July 21, more than 1,400 pages of public comments were submitted to the board for consideration.

Generally, those in support of the proposed changes have said biological differences between men and women give some student athletes a competitive advantage over others and that separating cisgender and transgender girl athletes would ensure competitive fairness. In contrast, those opposed say the changes are divisive, unnecessary and send a bad message to an already vulnerable group of students.

Thursday’s special meeting will be held remotely on Zoom with Meeting ID 993 9148 2721. More information about the proposed regulation changes can be accessed at education.alaska.gov/state_board.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the day of the week on which the state board will meet. The board will meet on Thursday. The Clarion regrets the error.

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