Mat-Su school board considers banning transgender athletes from girls’ sports

Matanuska-Susitna Borough school board members discuss a proposed change to its athletic policy that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams. (Screenshot from school board livestream.)

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough school board is considering amending its athletic policy to prevent transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams.

Under the proposal introduced by the board’s policy committee, students’ eligibility to play on girls’ teams would depend on their gender assigned at birth. If a transgender girl wanted to play a sport, she could only play on a boys’ team or co-ed team.

School board president Ryan Ponder is one of three board members who recommended the change. He read from the proposal at a school board meeting on Wednesday.

“The goal of this policy is to ensure discrimination against girls and women does not occur, that they are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in athletic programs compared to male-bodied athletes,” he read.

Several school board members expressed support for the policy. Member Jubilee Underwood said her son plays basketball in the district, and that she thought most parents would support the proposed policy.

One parent who disagreed was Robin Moffet. She has four kids in the district and told the board that including trans students in sports is important for their mental health.

“If this ban passes, it tells trans youth, athletes and non-athletes, out or closeted, that the adult leaders in this community are not safe and cannot be trusted,” she said. “That distrust and fear will lead to more suicide, more self-harm, more violence for these already more vulnerable youth.”

Board member Dwight Probasco questioned the legality of the policy. He asked for clarification from the district’s attorneys about whether the policy would be considered discriminatory.

“You know, we talk about a level playing field. That’s singular,” he said. “Where’s our fields for our trans children, and what would they look like?”

The school board will vote on the policy at its next meeting on June 15.

Just before the end of the legislative session, state senators voted to table a bill that would have enacted similar restrictions statewide. About a dozen states have passed similar laws.

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