Today, the South Dakota Senate passed extreme and dangerous legislation that attacks the rights of transgender children in public schools, and prevents them from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.
After repeatly, calling on lawmakers to stop the legislation, HRC and the ACLU of South Dakota, condemned the vote and called on Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto the offensive and deeply discriminatory legislation. If signed by the Governor, South Dakota would be in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Education and non-discrimination protections under Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972.
“Today South Dakota Senators voted to pass a bill that targets vulnerable transgender students for discrimination,” said Heather Smith, Executive Director, ACLU of South Dakota. Lawmakers heard from South Dakota parents, teachers, students, school counselors, clergy, and mental health professionals who wrote emails, and traveled to Pierre from all corners of the state to testify and demonstrate the ways in which this bill does real harm to transgender students. The only people to testify in support of this harmful, discriminatory bill were lobbyists—not one South Dakota citizen testified to the necessity of this bill. And that’s because it’s not necessary and we don’t need discrimination codified. It begs the question; do our state politicians truly represent the people of South Dakota, or do they represent outsider lobbyists and interest groups? Governor Daugaard should listen to his actual constituents and veto this bill and send a strong message that discrimination isn’t a South Dakota value and there’s simply no place for it in our schools, community, and state.”
H.B. 1008 would put South Dakota school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them into an untenable position of choosing between state and federal law. It would also tie the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents. The U.S. Department of Justice has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.”