The Alaska Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday to consider a proposed rule that would limit the participation of transgender girls in girls high school sports.
The board announced Friday afternoon that it would meet at 1 p.m. Thursday for a half-hour. The announcement came after board members decided in July against taking immediate action on the issue, amid vocal opposition from Democratic lawmakers, parents of transgender students and LGBTQ+ rights advocates.
Hundreds of Alaskans wrote to the board during a public comment period that was open in June and July. The proposed regulation states that “if a separate high school athletics team is established for female students, participation shall be limited to females who were assigned female at birth.”
One of those writing to the board in favor of the new regulation was Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican who had previously indicated his support for the policy.
“The proposed regulation is a necessary and appropriate parameter to ensure fairness, safety and equal opportunity for female athletes,” Dunleavy wrote the board in a letter dated July 12.
Dunleavy went on to suggest that the new regulation should classify participants allowed in girls sports as “biological females” rather than “those assigned female at birth,” as the board had suggested.
If the board, which is made up of voting members appointed by Dunleavy, adopts the policy, it would be up to the Alaska School Activities Association, which governs high school sports in the state, to implement it.
The board first took action to address transgender athletes in school sports with a March resolution passed at the end of its three-day quarterly meeting. The resolution was adopted with no advance notice and no public comment period. It came after similar legislation championed by Republican lawmakers failed to advance despite efforts beginning in 2021.
Following the resolution, the Alaska education department developed a proposed regulation to limit the participation of transgender girls in girls sports, citing the board’s March resolution as their only basis for the proposed regulation. In June, the board voted to advance the proposed regulation to public comment.
Currently, decisions on the participation of transgender athletes in school sports are left to individual school districts. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District is the only one in the state that has adopted a policy banning transgender athletes from participation in single-sex sports according to the gender with which they identify.
At least 22 states have laws that prevent transgender girls from playing on girls teams in K-12 schools. In Alaska, opponents of such laws say the state constitution’s privacy clause would make such a rule unconstitutional, even if it is allowed in other states, meaning that a legal challenge is likely if the board adopts the policy.