Elected Officials in South Dakota Must Reject Bill that Endangers Transgender ChildrenBy Adam Polaski • February 16, 2016 • 1:14 pm
Update: The South Dakota Senate passed H.B. 1008 on Tuesday afternoon, and the bill now goes to the desk of Governor Dennis Daugaard. Learn more, and take action here.
Today in South Dakota, the state Senate may take up H.B. 1008, which has already been approved by the House of Representatives in a move to harm transgender children. The measure, if approved by the Senate, would force transgender students in public schools to use restrooms, locker rooms, and facilities that correspond with their biological sex, ignoring their gender identity or expression.
The consequences if H.B. 1008 passes in South Dakota are certain: The state’s reputation will be considerably marred, real South Dakotans will be hurt, and lawmakers will be sending a message that the Mount Rushmore State is unwelcoming – and in fact, outright hostile to members of the LGBT community.
Beyond that, the legislation would have a damning economic impact on the state’s education system. Here’s how:
— Freedom for All USA (@freedom4allusa) February 16, 2016
Chase Strangio from the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a moving piece decrying the legislation today. Chase, who is transgender, wrote:
I urge South Dakotans and people across the country to take seriously what it would be like to be a young transgender person being told you are so freakish that others must be protected from you. Growing up is painful and isolating at times no matter who you are. The last thing we need is the government to take part in the bullying of our vulnerable kids. … I was lucky enough to survive to fight on behalf of my community. I hope today’s vote doesn’t prevent future advocates from surviving into adulthood.
Nearly two dozen states across the country have passed laws protecting transgender individuals’ right to use the restroom that matches their gender identity – and in every state, there have been zero recorded instances of threatening behavior by transgender people. In fact, transgender people are more likely to be targets of violence and assault in public restrooms and in other public spaces. A report by the National Center for Transgender Equality showed that 53 percent of respondents reported being verbally harassed in a place of public accommodation.
Elected officials – including the Governor – in South Dakota and in dozens of other states considering anti-LGBT legislation must take a stand against dangerous bills like H.B. 1008. Furthermore, these states must advance even further, passing affirmative protections for the LGBT community and ensuring that no one faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love.