South Dakota legislative committee advances transgender bathroom bill

Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 11:00 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A South Dakota legislative panel has advanced a bill that would pose restrictions on transgender students in school bathrooms.

The House State Affairs Committee voted on Monday to pass HB 1005. It now moves to the floor of the House.

The bill would prohibit transgender students from using communal facilities – school bathrooms, locker rooms, or sleeping rooms on overnight trips – that match their gender identity. It was introduced by Rep. Fred Deutsch (R, Florence).

The South Dakota American Civil Liberties Union released a statement opposing the bill, labeling it as “potty panic.” The group says it violates federal and constitutional law by singling out transgender youth.

“This bill isn’t motivated by privacy concerns. It’s motivated by ignorance, misinformation, and fear,” said ACLSU of SD Advocacy Manager Jett Jonelis. “It doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights to share spaces with those who are different. Like previous efforts to expel people of color, people with disabilities, and others from communal spaces, these arguments for privacy just mask a fear of difference. Eroding the fundamental rights of transgender people is dangerous for every one of us. When the government has the power to deny legal rights to one group, all Americans’ rights are severely threatened.”

The ACLU cited a recent case in Virginia where a court ruled a school board’s restroom policy restricting access for transgender students violated Title IX and the Constitution. The Supreme Court declined to review the lower court’s decision, and the school was ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in attorney’s fees and costs for the case.

South Dakota lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation in 2016 with House Bill 1108, which Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed, and Senate Bill 115, which was withdrawn at its first hearing.

Many Republican lawmakers have shown a refusal to accept trans students’ gender identity. They insist that students should be assessed based on the biological sex on their birth certificate.

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