The South Dakota Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would require students at public schools to use restrooms based on their “chromosomes and anatomy” at birth, meaning transgender youth would be prohibited from using a bathroom of the gender they identify with.
If the governor signs the measure into law, South Dakota would become the first state in the nation to issue a statute of this kind.
This is "a bill that targets vulnerable transgender students for discrimination and could cost the state millions of dollars in federal education funding. 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," said a prepared statement from Heather Smith, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. "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. South Dakota stands to lose."
"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 [Dennis] 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.”
Proponents of the bill say the legislation is necessary to protect children's privacy, according to an article on Time
Under the measure, such students would be afforded “reasonable accommodations” if they did not want to use the facilities that align with their birth sex. The measure passed with a vote of 20-15.
State Sen. Brock Greenfield, the main proponent of the bill, said it “asks us to contemplate what we feel is appropriate … regarding the commingling of biological sexes in the same rather intimate settings.” He added: “We recognize there are a number of concerns, but let me just ask you: do you feel it appropriate for a 12-year-old girl to be exposed to the anatomy of a boy?”
Other senators called such comments unfair fear-mongering and said it suggests that transgender youth are dangerous or perverted, when the reality is that they are often bullied and especially self-conscious of their bodies. “It suggests that these are kids out there that are preying on other kids,” said state Sen. Bernie Hunhoff. “These are kids that are very much at risk in their schools … Let’s not be adding to their burdens.”
In Arizona, organizations like the Tucson-based Transgender Awareness Week
, which is part of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance
, is urging the community to sign a petition
demanding South Dakota's Republican governor to veto the bill.