Alaska school sports board votes to exclude transgender girls from girls teams

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(James Brooks/Alaska Beacon) – Transgender girls in Alaska are now banned from competing on girls’ school sports teams.

The board of the Alaska School Activities Association — which regulates school sports in the state — voted 5-3 on Monday to adopt a new rule affecting transgender girls.

The rule was required by the Alaska state school board, which voted in August to require that ASAA create a sports division limited to students who are assigned female at birth. That excludes transgender girls.

More than half of U.S. states have some policy restricting the athletic participation of transgender students. Twenty-three states have limited transgender students by law, according to a count by the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit whose stated mission includes promoting equity and inclusion. 

Other states, including Alaska, have acted through regulation rather than law.

Members of the school board are appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and the new policy is one of several that his administration has proposed to limit the rights of transgender students.

A bill filed by the administration with the Alaska Legislature would require students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender assigned at birth, and it would have required schools to inform parents if their child wants to use a different name or preferred pronoun.

Those proposals have since been revised and have yet to pass the Legislature in any form.

ASAA’s new rule takes effect 30 days after the board’s vote.

Under the new rule, a transgender girl is able to compete on a coed team or on a boys team, if a school has teams designated by gender.

The new ASAA rule is expected to draw legal challenges from civil rights organizations and could cause Alaska’s network of school sports to fracture.

Several school districts, including Anchorage, Alaska’s largest, have adopted anti-discrimination policies that conflict with ASAA’s new rule, and school districts across the state will be tasked with reconciling that conflict.