In an unannounced move, the Alaska board of education unanimously passed a resolution Thursday afternoon that urges the state education division to limit the participation of transgender girls in girls college sports.
The resolution, which is non-binding, encourages the Alaska Division of Education and Early Improvement to adopt a policy that would ban transgender girls from competing alongside girls who are cisgender — which means their gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth — in college sports. The resolution asks the education division to produce two sports divisions: a single exclusively for students whose sex assigned at birth is female, and an additional that would be open to all students of all genders.
The resolution was added unexpectedly to the agenda, on the tail finish of the Alaska board of education’s 3-day meeting in Juneau, which concluded Thursday.
Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska College Activities Association, mentioned the resolution closely mirrors a policy he discussed with members of the administration of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy final month. Strickland mentioned members of the governor’s administration approached him to talk about banning transgender athletes from competing alongside cisgender athletes altogether, with the concept of making 3 divisions: a single for girls, a single for boys and a single coed division that could accommodate transgender athletes.
Spokespeople for the governor’s workplace did not instantly respond to concerns on Dunleavy’s position on the situation and regardless of whether he intended to instruct the division of education to adopt the policy outlined in the board’s resolution.
Strickland mentioned there are not sufficient transgender athletes to populate a third division. In his nine years directing the organization that oversees higher college sports in Alaska, he mentioned he has heard of only a single transgender athlete. As an alternative, Strickland told the Dunleavy administration it would be attainable to produce a division only for cisgender girls, and an “open” division that could accommodate all other students, which includes transgender students. Girls currently routinely play alongside boys in Alaska on some football and hockey teams when equivalent teams for girls do not exist.
Beneath current regulations, it is up to person college boards and districts to adopt and implement policies pertaining to transgender athletes’ participation in college sports. Most districts do not have a policy at all, and only the Mat-Su college board has adopted guidelines limiting the participation of transgender athletes in teams that align with their gender identity, Strickland mentioned.
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The policy Strickland discussed in early February with members of the governor’s administration — whom Strickland declined to name — would call for transgender girls to play in the open division alongside boys, but as Strickland understood it, transgender boys whose sex assigned at birth is female could pick out involving the two divisions.
That regulation closely mirrored the a single proposed in the non-binding resolution that passed Thursday at four p.m., shortly just before the board adjourned.
Members of the board and the division of education declined numerous requests for a copy of the resolution on Friday. Division spokesperson Laurel Shoop mentioned she could not present a copy of the resolution due to the fact it had but to be signed by board chair James Fields.
But according to a draft copy of the resolution obtained by the Day-to-day News, the board urged the Alaska College Activities Association to adopt the two-division proposal to shield “the integrity of higher college girls’ sports.”
“The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Improvement supports the passage of regulations proposed by the Alaska Division of Education and Early Improvement and reviewed by the individuals of Alaska to prioritize competitive fairness and security on the playing field whilst enabling all students to participate in activities,” the resolution states.
The eight-member board passed the resolution unanimously. The board’s student adviser, Maggie Cothron, abstained.
“We’re producing a statement of maintaining girls’ sports secure and competitive and fair, that is all,” Fields mentioned in a short interview right after the vote Thursday.
The resolution was brought by board member Lorri Van Diest, who did not instantly respond to a list of concerns sent by e mail Friday.
Sen. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, mentioned Friday that the resolution had caught her “off guard” and that she had not discovered about it till right after it had passed. Tobin mentioned she was concerned that the board had violated its requirement to enable the public to weigh in on resolutions just before they are adopted.
Tobin mentioned she was “very concerned” about the resolution possibly violating the appropriate to privacy enshrined in the Alaska Constitution.
“What I’ve been in a position to see, this resolution could possibly violate these provisions,” mentioned Tobin. “When I assume of the handful of young individuals we’re speaking about, I get quite worried and scared about their security. Even the optics of it creates a scenario that may well place some people’s lives in jeopardy.”
Tobin mentioned that her reading of the resolution indicates the regulations have currently been proposed by the education division. A spokesperson for the division did not respond to a query on regardless of whether the regulations have currently been drafted.
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“I am concerned mainly due to the fact I am the chair of the state policy committee for education in the Senate,” mentioned Tobin. “I am concerned that the procedure just was not followed, and that we weren’t in a position to present our public comment on this situation.”
Tobin mentioned that the Legislature can “nullify” proposed regulations proposed by the education division or any other state division.
“We present the authority to our division to do that in regulation, but that does not imply they have carte blanche to enact a regulation package that the state Legislature does not think is in the intent and the directive of their energy,” Tobin mentioned.
The resolution from the Alaska education board — composed of folks appointed or reappointed by Dunleavy — comes on the heels of a measure introduced by Dunleavy that would effect the rights of transgender students in Alaska. Earlier this month, he proposed a bill that would call for gender nonconforming students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their sex assigned at birth. That bill, which has not but been voted on by members of the Legislature, would also call for parental approval for students looking for to transform the name or pronouns they use in schools.
Queries on the participation of transgender athletes in sports have come up routinely in state legislatures, which includes Alaska’s, but Strickland mentioned he is not familiar with other states that have resolved the situation by making just two sports divisions.
“We could possibly grow to be the cutting edge of how this is becoming handled,” he mentioned.
A bill that would limit the participation of transgender youngsters in college sports failed to pass the Senate final year, right after it was proposed by Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer. Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, proposed a comparable bill earlier this year that would enable transgender athletes to participate in a separate co-educational division, with other divisions reserved for boys and girls according to their sex assigned at birth. That bill has but to be scheduled for a hearing.
Members of the bipartisan Alaska Senate majority this year vowed to remain clear of divisive troubles, which includes bills pertaining to the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
Samuels reported from Anchorage and Maguire reported from Juneau.
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