Resolution to ban trans girls from female sports draws strong reactions

Resolution to ban trans girls from female sports draw strong reactions
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 8:56 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A proposed resolution that would prevent trans girls in public schools in Alaska from competing on female sports teams is feeling the heat from critics.

The state Board of Education and Early Development passed the non-binding resolution last week encouraging the Alaska Department of Education and early development to adopt a policy that would make it so transgender girls couldn’t compete alongside cisgender girls.

If the resolution is adopted, transgender girls would not be able to compete against girls who are assigned female at birth.

The Chair of the State Board of Education, James Fields, says it’s about protecting students.

“The evidence is pretty clear that there’s a physical difference between males and females, especially when you get into the mature puberty ages, and it’s a matter of keeping kids safe on the playing field, whatever that may be,” Fields said.

Haley Amorelli, a queer student who went through the Alaska school system, said that it is inaccurate to assume that trans girls have an unfair advantage over cisgender girls, especially with hormone blockers and youth transitioning so early in life.

“Strength training, practice, perseverance, and the mindset of a competitive athlete is something that absolutely can work better and stronger than hormones ever will,” Amorelli said.

The board recommended an open division for students who identify with either sex or gender.

A spokesperson for Gov. Mike Dunleavy responded to the resolution Friday, saying it’s time to “seriously consider co-ed interscholastic sports so that all students can compete at their highest level.”

“If a person who was born a male but feels out of place playing a sport in a league with boys only due to their gender identity, the solution isn’t to allow them to compete against girls, but to increase co-ed opportunities,” the statement read.

Owen Hutchinson, co-chair of the board of directors for Identity Alaska, says the entire current Board of Education was appointed by Dunleavy and only represents his political interests.

“This is straight out of a playbook that we have seen enacted nationally to create a hostile learning environment for trans youth, rather than focus on the true need to retain teachers and improve student academic outcomes,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said that he was once a queer student in Alaska and believes this is an intentional attack on students who are already vulnerable.

“I see this having an impact on me. I see this having an impact on families and the young people that Identity serves, and I’m really worried for my friends and the young people who desperately need more services, not fewer,” Hutchinson said.

The Alaska School Activities Association also plays a role in the debate. Executive Director Billy Strickland said he wants to do what’s best for the vast majority of students, including the possibility of more co-ed sports.

“It looks that would be something that would be very well available,” Strickland said. “You know we would have a division for biological females, and then we would have a co-ed division for everyone else, so I think it’s obtainable.”

According to the board, the resolution wouldn’t stop transgender boys from playing sports with other boys. Under existing regulations, it’s up to individual school boards and districts to implement this policy when it comes to transgender athletes.