The Alaska Board of Education will convene in Soldotna this week to discuss, among other topics, a regulation that could restrict male students’ ability to compete as females in some school sports.
If passed, the proposed regulation would prevent boys from competing on girls’ teams in situations where those teams are set up exclusively for girls. Students would be limited to either participating in multi-gender sports teams or joining a team specifically designated for their actual gender, as determined by their biology. Sometimes this is called “gender assigned at birth” by those who believe gender is a social construct.
The vote will determine whether the proposal should proceed to a 30-day public comment period or be dead in the water.
The issue has been a contentious topic in various states. As of now, 21 states have policies in place that prevent male students from participating in sports or other activities based on their preferred female gender identities. These rules typically apply to teams made up of children in middle or high school. School sports organizations across the nation have implemented a range of regulations on this matter.
The U.S. Department of Education, under the Biden Administration, is trying to prevent these policies from spreading and has begun its own regulatory process to allow flexibility for boys who want to compete as girls. The Biden Administration is walking a tightrope, as most parents understand the need to allow girls to play on a level field with other girls.
Several instances of injuries to girls in competitions in which boys have been assigned to girls’ teams have been reported, fueling concerns among athletes and parents. Numerous trophies and awards have been won by male athletes in competitions that were previously exclusively reserved for female athletes.
The question of whether boys can compete on girls’ track, volleyball, or soccer teams comes at a time when Matt Walsh’s documentary, “What is a Woman” has become the one of the most successful documentaries ever.
The question also comes at a time when a significant court case is underway. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit urging it to protect equal opportunity for girls’ athletics.
Although the rule would apply to both sexes, it’s almost unheard of for girls to be winning trophies in boys athletic divisions. This is mainly about protecting female athletes.
In March, the state Board of Education passed a resolution supporting girls’ athletics and asking the state athletics governing group to get control of the situation.
But the Alaska School Activities Association Board of Directors met and decided it was up to the state, not a nonprofit organization. The group’s rules say that, for now at least, it’s a decision that local school districts must set for themselves.
Alaska State Sen. Loki Tobin (she/her) sent a stinging letter to the state Board of Education, expressing her strong objection to the regulation:
“I am alarmed by the proposed regulation change to interscholastic activities that will be considered at the upcoming State Board of Education and Early Development meeting in Soldotna. These changes not only supersede anticipated federal guidance prohibiting such blanket trans athlete bans, but they also undermine local control and parental rights, which are guiding principles in education policy in the State of Alaska,” wrote the Democrat from urban Anchorage.
“It is unfathomable to me why State Board members would weigh into a topic that is so publicly divisive without any authorizing legislation passed by the Alaska Legislature and signed into law by the Governor to indicate a need for regulatory change. Furthermore, I find it especially appalling that the Department of Education and Early Development is justifying discrimination against trans and non-binary children by referencing Alaska Statute 14.18.040, which prohibits discrimination in recreational and athletic activities. I hope that you reject enshrining a regulation that unfairly targets and discriminates against trans and non-binary children who are simply trying to be children,” Tobin wrote.
Tobin went on to explain that she participated in wrestling as a youngster against males and had no problems.
“I would note that there is a provision in Alaska law that allows official documents like a birth certificate to be corrected or amended. I am assuming your misguided intent is for the Department of Education and Early Development, ASAA, or some other entity to be able to ignore an amended birth certificate in favor of an original interpretation about who a person is based on their genitalia. By continuing to pursue this proposed regulatory change, you are putting our already struggling school districts in danger of legal action that could harm public school systems across Alaska. For what purpose?” Tobin wrote.
The Alaska Board of Education will meet in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers, 144 N. Binkley Street, Soldotna on June 7-8. This item is set for the June 8 agenda, which is at this link.