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South Dakota passes anti-trans bill into law.


In early February two anti-trans bills were put before South Dakota legislation. First, there was House bill 1005 which prohibited transgender students from using communal facilities such as school bathrooms, locker rooms, or sleeping rooms on overnight trips – that match their gender identity.

Then there was SB 46, a bill that prohibits transgender women and girls from playing sports on teams that match their gender identity.

Fortunately, House Bill 1005 was killed in a Senate committee earlier in February, but Gov. Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 46 into law.

American Civil Liberties Union Speaks Out

Chalk drawing of trans flag on sidewalk

South Dakota passes anti-trans bill into law.

tock photo: Pexels

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota (ACLU) spoke out against the discriminatory law at the time it was headed to Gov. Noem's desk.The ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager Jett Jonelis, said the bill discriminates not only trans women and girls in ways that "compromise their health, social and emotional development, and safety, but also it violates federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection,” but it also, "perpetuates harmful myths about transgender people and reduces trans students to political pawns. Our lawmakers should be focused on protecting South Dakota’s youth by creating safe and welcoming environments rather than launching baseless attacks to score political points.”

Noem eventually signed the bill and it's now law. Executive Director of Susan Williams of The Transformation Project in South Dakota responded to its passage saying the South Dakota High School Athletic Association has had a policy for transgender athletes in place for years. Furthermore, she adds, many schools across the nation have been creating policies that protect trans youth effectively, creating equality in sports.

"South Dakota's ban on transgender youth playing sports undermines those local efforts in our state," said Williams. "Schools across the country know that transgender students, like any student, thrive when they are treated with dignity and respect. Under this law, local school officials who recognize that a transgender girl is a girl during the school day will be forced by the state to treat her as if she’s a boy when sports practice starts."

Hurtful & Unfair to Kids

Not only is the policy hurtful to the student, but it also makes kids feel unfairly treated.

"Since this bill passed through the legislature, we've been talking with parents in South Dakota whose trans girls were looking forward to playing volleyball, basketball, soccer, and being a part of the gymnastics team," said Williams. "It's so devastating. We know that kids learn a lot of important life lessons in sports: leadership, confidence, self-respect, and what it means to be part of a team."

These laws and ones of its ilk single out transgender youth, and according to the ACLU violate federal and constitutional law. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) weighed in on the discriminatory bills and offered some pretty informative and eye-opening results:

"A poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign and Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

Crowd holding Transgender Flags

Transgender protest

Stock Photo: Pexels

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley made the following statement in regards to the passing of SB 46:

“Instead of focusing on the real issues affecting the people of South Dakota, Gov. Noem and anti-LGBTQ+ state legislators continue their relentless, baseless, and patently discriminatory attacks against transgender kids. They show no shame. The governor’s eagerness to pass a bill attacking transgender kids reveals that her national political aspirations override any sense of responsibility she has to fulfill her oath to protect South Dakotans."

Gov. Noem's signing of the bill makes her the first governor to sign an anti-transgender decree into law in 2022.

"Gov. Noem and the South Dakota state legislature have decided to shut transgender youth out of those opportunities, promote discrimination, and encourage harassment of vulnerable kids in our state," said Williams.

Gov. Noem's signing of the bill makes her the first governor to sign an anti-transgender decree into law in 2022.

"Gov. Noem and the South Dakota state legislature have decided to shut transgender youth out of those opportunities, promote discrimination, and encourage harassment of vulnerable kids in our state," said Williams.

Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

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