Alaska board of education votes to ban transgender girls from competing on high school girls teams

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska state board of education on Thursday voted to bar transgender girls from competing on high school girls athletic teams.

The board met in special session and approved on a 7-1 vote a regulation saying, “If a separate high school athletics team is established for female students, participation shall be limited to females who were assigned female at birth.”

The only dissenting vote came from Felix Myers, the high school representative on the board. The military advisor on the board abstained.

The decision is dependent upon review and final approval by the state's attorney general's office.

The board had initially taken up the matter in July, but it delayed its vote after hearing more than 2 1/2 hours of testimony and receiving about 1,400 pages of written comments.

The board did not take any public comments at the latest meeting. However, member Lorri Van Diest said the earlier comments were about evenly split until a conservative family advocacy group in Anchorage submitted a petition and comments after the deadline, giving the ban's proponents a wide edge.

The agenda said the state government administration had no recommendation on whether the proposal should pass. But Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said the regulation is needed to ensure fairness in girls sports.

At least 22 states have laws that prevent transgender girls from playing on girls’ teams in K-12 schools. Some of the laws also keep transgender boys off boys teams, and some apply the ban to college athletics.

The proposal in Alaska is not connected to legislation, where similar proposals have died in the state Legislature. At least one school district, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough district just north of Anchorage, last year adopted a policy that prevents transgender girls from competing on girls sports teams.

Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press