- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Haines School District and a nonprofit Christian advocacy group are at odds over a transgender competitor at the state track meet in Anchorage.

Nattaphon Wangyot, 18, represented Haines High School in the women’s 3A 200 meter race in Anchorage on Saturday, causing some to question whether it’s fair to allow a student who was born male to compete against biological females, KTUU-TV reported (https://bit.ly/1UcY7J0 ). Wangyot, who was born male but identifies as female, placed 3rd in the competition.

Last month, the Alaska School Activities Association voted to accept schools’ individual policies when it comes to sports participation. ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland said that determination is not appealable and that his association will not make the gender-identity determination itself.

Members of the nonprofit Alaska Family Action argue that allowing the transgender student to compete violates federal anti-discrimination laws. Member Jim Minnery said transgender competition violates Title IX, which was enacted to stop discrimination against women in education.

“It’s not about anything other than fairness and quality for student athletes, girls in particular in this track meet are having to run against someone that has different DNA,” said Stephanie Williams, a parent who was talking with Alaska Family Action members outside the track meet Friday.

Haines Superintendent Rich Carlson said the district made sure the student was able to legally participate in women’s sports. The district has a policy with guidelines for transgender students that include how they function in school and use different facilities.

“We certainly feel like we adhere to the rules, and we certainly feel like we adhere to Title IX,” he said.

Strickland said he had hoped stories about the state track meet would focus more the races than Wangyot’s gender.

“It’s a newsworthy event but at the same time we had a state record broken today and I would rather see that being covered more so than some of the other stuff,” Strickland said.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, https://www.ktuu.com

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