Alaska Legislature

Alaska House committee advances bill to expand state trans girls’ sports ban

JUNEAU — A bill that would expand a state ban on transgender girls competing in girls’ sports advanced from the House Education Committee on Monday.

The State Board of Education and the Alaska School Activities Association last year prohibited trans girls from competing in high school girls sports through regulation. House Bill 183 would expand that ban in state law to all public school students in Alaska. Private schools that compete against public school students would also be included in the ban.

The bill advanced on Monday from the education committee on a 4-3 vote. All four yes votes were from members of the Republican-led House majority.

Eagle River Republican Rep. Jamie Allard, who introduced the measure, said in a brief interview after Monday’s vote that it was needed because “women’s rights and girls’ rights are being violated.”

Three legislators who voted against advancing Allard’s bill included Rep. CJ McCormick, a Bethel Democrat. He said that he would prefer the education committee focus on increasing school funding or on maintenance issues at rural Alaska schools.

Last week, the Legislature failed by one vote to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s veto of a bipartisan education package that included the largest nominal school funding increase in state history.

“I think it’s just disappointing that, first of all, that we’re even hearing the legislation. But also, I just have huge concerns about what it’s going to mean for young people and their mental health,” McCormick said.


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Alaska is one of 25 states that have laws or regulations in place banning transgender students from competing on teams that are consistent with their gender identity. A memorandum from the Legislature’s attorneys said it was “highly likely” Allard’s bill would be challenged as a violation of the Alaska Constitution’s privacy clause.

The vast majority of public testimony to the education committee Monday was opposed to Allard’s bill. Several callers said it would harm LGBTQ students.

Dr. Lindsey Banning, a psychologist and parent of a transgender child, said the measure would be “enshrining discrimination into law to ensure that trans kids can’t play games with their friends, and be part of a team.”

”This bill is an embarrassment. It’s harmful. It’s not Alaskan. And we won’t stand for it now, just like we haven’t before,” she added.

Previous efforts to pass legislation limiting the participation of transgender athletes in school sports have failed to gain traction in the Legislature. But the Dunleavy administration was successful in pushing for the new regulations last year, even without legislative action.

Several parents who testified Monday echoed testimony earlier in the month from Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer turned conservative political campaigner. Gaines has used her own experience competing against a transgender athlete to advocate against the participation of transgender athletes in women’s sports.

HB 183 next heads to the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by conservative Republican Rep. Sarah Vance of Homer.

The House Education Committee has also recently heard “a parental rights” bill proposed by Nikiski GOP Rep. Ben Carpenter. It is similar to a measure proposed last year by Dunleavy to limit sex education and restrict which bathrooms transgender students can use at schools. Dunleavy’s amended bill has not had a hearing since April last year.

The education committee’s hearings come as hope fades that the Legislature will pass a permanent school funding increase this year.

Members of the bipartisan Senate majority caucus have said they offered multiple compromises to the House and Dunleavy to ensure a school funding increase was approved. Senators reiterated at a Monday news conference that House Republicans would need to take the lead on passing another education bill.

The House Education Committee is planning to hold a first hearing Wednesday on legislation proposed by Anchorage GOP Rep. Tom McKay that is similar to the vetoed education bill, except that it includes Dunleavy’s $180 million teacher bonus proposal.

“If everybody agrees, we’ll pass it out of committee as soon as we’re able to,” Allard said Monday about McKay’s bill.

Earlier in the legislative session, House Republicans were unable to pass an education package that included Dunleavy’s proposal to pave the way for more charter schools and to offer teacher bonuses. They also did not have votes to advance that education package to the House floor for debate.

Soldotna Republican Rep. Justin Ruffridge, one of four House majority Republicans who voted to override Dunleavy’s education veto, said it would be “pretty accurate” to say the committee does not have a clear plan on passing a school-funding boost. Ruffridge declined to comment Monday on his yes vote for Allard’s trans sports bill.

The House Education Committee was unable to meet for most of February amid disagreements between House Republicans. Ruffridge also declined to comment on the committee’s plans for the next few weeks.

“Probably better for me to not say. I don’t have anything that would be helpful,” he said Monday.

Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau. He previously reported from Juneau for Alaska's News Source. Contact him at