ASAA to consider Hate Speech and Harassment Policy

by Greg Lincoln

The Alaska School Activities Association will be considering adopting a hate speech and harassment policy at their next board meeting, Feb. 22-23, 2021.

The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) is the statewide nonprofit organization that directs, develops and supports Alaska’s high school interscholastic sports, academic and fine arts activities.

ASAA governs high school sports – basketball games, wrestling and cross country meets and the state tournaments.

The proposed policy states that the ASAA is making a clear statement that they do not tolerate hate speech or harassment during ASAA sanctioned competitions.

This Policy and Procedure for Addressing Hate Speech and Harassment will be in effect at all ASAA sanctioned contests, states the draft document. It was created to accomplish the following goals:

1) Make a clear statement that the ASAA does not tolerate hate speech.

2) Demonstrate that addressing hate speech or harassment is more important than the contest itself.

3) Address the situation early so that it does not escalate into a worse incident later.

4) Demonstrate to the target and team that their concern is being heard and addressed.

5) Institute more severe consequences for an athlete who persists in using hate speech.

6) Allow time for emotions to cool down.

ASAA defines Hate Speech and Harassment in the proposed policy as:

Behavior aimed at a person’s sex, gender identification, race, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or disability that substantially interferes with a students’ school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment. Hate Speech or Harassment may be verbal, non-verbal, or physical acts during ASAA competitions.

“This policy and procedure are designed to provide a consistent, rational framework for managing and dealing with situations at contests when a participant or coach believes an opposing school’s participant or coach have used hate speech towards a member of their team or between teammate to teammate interaction,” states the draft.

Immediate ejection will be the penalty for any acts of hate speech or harassment. “Target” refers to the individual who heard the hate speech. “Alleged offender” refers to the individual(s) who allegedly used the hate speech and “Comment” refers to the hate speech or harassment that was used. Below is the draft Policy and Procedure Administration:

1) As part of the official’s certification, ASAA will stress that officials should not tolerate Hate Speech or Harassment.

2) When contest officials witness hate speech or an act of harassment, the alleged offender shall be penalized by an IMMEDIATE EJECTION of the violator(s). In addition to serving all requirements of the ASAA student ejection policy, the student will be required to have completed the NFHS Learn Sportsmanship course to regard eligibility.

3) When a target is subjected to harassment and contest officials DO NOT witness the act – the target should IMMEDIATELY inform his/her head coach of the following at the next stoppage in action after the comment was heard:

-The specific comment made

-When and where the comment was made

-Identification of the alleged offender (number, position, etc.)

NOTE: If the target is unable to identify who made the comment, the target should still communicate what she/he heard to their coach, and their coach should notify the official immediately.

4) The head coach will immediately inform the official of the information above. The official will then inform the other head coach of the accusation. The official shall also notify ASAA with 24 hours of ALL situations in which hate speech or harassment was suspected.

5) The head coaches of both teams will inform their Administration and ASAA within 24 hours of ALL situations in which hate speech or harassment was suspected. The Administration will meet directly with any participant identified as possibly using hate speech, alleging the use of hate speech or harassment.

6) If the target does not inform his/her coach about the comment until after the team has left the contest site, the coach shall inform his/her Administration and that Administration shall inform the opposing Administration and ASAA. Both Administrators shall meet with their respective participants (alleged offender and target) and then communicate back to the other Administrators and ASAA of their findings. If the alleged offender admits to saying the comment, he/she will be ineligible until having completed the NFHS Learn Sportsmanship course.

7) The Administrator of each school will inform ASAA Administrator of the outcome of their investigation. Each school involved will have access to review both reports.

The agenda for the Feb. 22-23 meeting can be viewed at the ASAA website.