ASAA considers ‘hate speech’ policy for student athletes

Published: Feb. 21, 2021 at 7:46 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Homer and Palmer battled for the Division 2 State Hockey Title. Fans loved it as the pandemic limited how many people could watch in person at Wasilla’s Menard Sports Center.

“It’s awesome,” said Amanda Heard, whose two sons play for Palmer, “the fact we’ve been able to play high school hockey this season is incredible to me.”

Next season could include a big change, nothing you see, but, the athletes may have to watch what they say.

The Alaska School Activities Association, ASAA, is considering a “hate speech policy” for all its events. Certain words could be banned.

“Homophobic slurs, race-based language,” said ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland. “We know passions get high, okay? But what we’re hoping is students learn through activities how to conduct yourselves when things aren’t going your way.”

The proposed policy would take a zero-tolerance approach towards violators.

“Remainder of the game ejected, and the next,” Strickland said. “We would then require the student to take a free sportsmanship course in order to regain their eligibility.”

The purpose is to prevent any problems during competition.

“I think there was a lot of talk this fall on some incidents that maybe occurred, or allegedly occurred in the past,” said Strickland. “We want to be clear what our expectations would be.”

Alaska appears ready to follow Illinois’ lead. It adopted a similar hate speech policy last August.

“It could be a matter of let’s make sure schools are doing a good job of letting their students know what their expectations are if they are the target of hate speech,” Strickland said.

“That’s unacceptable racial slurs, or homophobia slurs,” said Heard about the proposed policy. “There’s trash talk in hockey, then there’s more serious things like racial slurs, and that sort of thing.”

Those things may soon be removed from the the ice and any high school competition, as ASAA is scheduled to discuss the policy during this week’s monthly meeting.

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