House Panel Advances Trans Girls-Sports Ban

By CLAIRE STREMPLE
Alaska Beacon
    Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee expanded and advanced a bill that would limit Alaska students’ sports participation to teams that match their sex at birth. Twenty-four states have passed similar laws.
    House Bill 183 was amended in the committee’s Friday meeting to include collegiate sports as well as elementary and middle school sports. Transgender girls are already barred from participation in girls high school sports by a regulation adopted by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s appointees on the state Board of Education and Early Development last year.
    Both supporters and opponents of the controversial proposal feel their rights are at risk. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River, said its aim is to maintain fairness for girls and women who participate in sports.
    Reps. Andrew Gray and Cliff Groh, both Anchorage Democrats and committee members, opposed the bill’s expansion and advancement.
    Gray attempted to keep the bill from advancing out of committee, but his objection failed.
    “We’ve heard a lot of testimony against the bill. I think we should respect the will of the people of Alaska to not bring this very hateful, harmful legislation to the body,” he said.
    Groh said he was concerned that the proposal would be vulnerable to lawsuits. “I think that the costs of adopting this legislation very much exceeds the benefits. I’m also very concerned about the potential for successful constitutional claims against this legislation,” he said.
    Dozens of Alaskans testified against the bill on Friday. While the voices of support were outnumbered in public testimony, hundreds of people wrote to the House Education and Judiciary committees to encourage the bill’s passage.
    Michael Garvey, the advocacy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, said the bill is unconstitutional and discriminatory.
    “Alaska’s constitution provides explicit privacy and due process protection, which apply to public schools. HB 183 cannot be implemented and enforced without violating those rights,” he said. “Additionally, HB 183 would deprive transgender girls of equal access to opportunities to engage in sports, which are a way to build skill, resilience and community.”
    Olivia Emery, the mother of an LGBTQ child, was tearful in her testimony. She said her daughter is not trans, but already experiences a lot of bullying.
    “This would be a green flag for classmates who already wish to cause her harm both mental and physical,” she said, echoing the concern of other testifiers.
    Alexander Rosales, an Eagle River resident, testified in support of the bill on Friday. He said his experience in the military showed him that men and women have different physical capabilities. “So I want to come here as a dad, as a man and speak on behalf of women,” he said. “We should be protecting, looking out for them and stand beside women and defend their rights in sports and not look at it as somebody’s being disenfranchised in any way.”
    In order to become law, the bill would have to be approved by the House and the Senate.
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20 YEARS AGO

May 2004

Sitka High sophomore Dianne Chong was named Athlete of the Meet at the Region V track and field championships in Juneau, as she won the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter IM hurdles. Other Wolves winners were Joy Ribao, Megan Lehmann, Greg Hunter and Kyle Ainslie.

50 YEARS AGO

May 1974

 The new Sheldon Jackson College Library will be officially dedicated Friday. Remarks will be made by Elmer Rasmuson, National Bank of Alaska; Dr. Orin Stratton, SJC president from 1966 to 1973; Mrs. Betty Stratton; and current SJC president Robert C. Uddenberg. Keys to the $675,000 building will be presented to Mrs. Evelyn Bonner, head librarian.

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