The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) has agreed to allow students in Alaska to play sports in accordance with whichever gender they identify as regardless of their biological sex at birth.
Unanimously approved by the ASAA board of directors late last year, the new policy was only announced this spring with the justification that the new approach will better comply with the Obama administration’s unprecedented interpretation of federal Title IX laws, which it claims guarantee special rights according to whichever gender identity a person chooses.
In Alaska, the ASAA sponsors, regulates and sanctions interscholastic activities, including state championship tournaments between schools across Alaska, which include faith-based schools such as Lumen Christi High School and Holy Rosary Academy in Anchorage.
Previously the ASAA assumed biological sex at birth as the determining factor for allowing students to play on boys or girls sports teams.
Under the updated policy, ASAA will now “rely on a gender determination made by the student’s member school,” which has the authority to come up with criteria for identifying a student’s gender as well as which team — boys or girls — the student can play for.
The policy clarifies that once an individual Alaska school determines whether a student may participate in sports or other activities which do not match their biological sex, that “determination shall remain in effect for the duration of the student’s high school eligibility.” Once that determination has been made, ASAA will not allow any appeals to the decision by other schools.
Activities impacted by ASAA’s new policy change include contact sports such as wrestling, ice hockey, football, basketball and other sports in which the purpose or major activity involves bodily contact.
For schools that do not have a transgender policy, students may only participate based on their biological sex. This situation, however, is something the board is seeking to change. According to a recent article in the Alaska Dispatch News, ASAA is urging all school districts to adopt written policies regarding transgender participation in sports and other activities. To this end ASAA has sent a blueprint transgender policy to member school districts to help them craft their own.
The transgender issue was raised last year by Alaska’s largest school district when the Anchorage School District issued a policy allowing students and staff who identify with the opposite sex to dress as the sex they identify with and have access to respective restrooms and locker rooms. Additionally the district policy allows students to participate on sports teams that accord with their sexual identity.
The Anchorage School District policy advises secondary schools to keep a student’s sexual identity transition from parents, warning, “notifying parents carries risks for the student if the family does not support the student’s desire to transition.”
The push for transgender rights is not unique to Alaska. On May 13, the Obama administration issued a letter to all public schools that they should allow members of one biological sex to use the showers, locker rooms and restrooms – and stay in the same hotel rooms during field trips – as members of the opposite sex or risk losing federal funding.
In April, the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) became the latest state to adopt a policy allowing high school students to play sports based on their preferred gender identity.
As transgender and sexual identity politics work their way into the schools, advocates of the longstanding, historical understanding of human sexuality are speaking up.
The Cardinal Newman Society, for example, is a national nonprofit group that promotes and defends faithful Catholic education. With schools around the country increasingly encountering political pressure to embrace transgender ideology, the Newman Society released a new resource in March to help Catholic schools protect their Catholic identity while compassionately addressing gender identity issues.
The resource, “Human Sexuality Policies for Catholic Schools,” provides policy recommendations for Catholic schools, including athletic and gender identity policies.
In crafting school policies the Newman Society recommends that participation in sports should be based on biological sex, and suggests as an athletic policy for Catholic schools: “Students are only eligible to participate on our school’s sport teams consistent with their biological sex. In order to maintain dignity, modesty and respect for forms of physical contact between members of the opposite sex, at no time will members of the opposite sex wrestle each other in intra-school or inter-school activities.”
The Newman Society report notes that the American College of Pediatricians recently warned against encouraging students to embrace a gender identity that contradicts their biological sex.
“Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to ‘gender clinics’ where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs,” the Newman Society stated. “This, in turn, virtually ensures that they will ‘choose’ a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.”
The Cardinal Newman Society noted that Pope Francis has warned against gender ideology and the separation of sex from gender as harmful to individuals and society.
“[T]he young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for ‘thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation,’” the pope said earlier this year in his apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.” He further noted that young people should be helped to “accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension ‘to cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it.’”
The new Alaska School Activities Association policy change can be reversed or amended by a simple majority vote of the board of directors. To contact individual ASAA board members, go online to: asaa.org/about-asaa/board-of-directors.