For the Third Year in a Row, Anti-Transgender Legislation in South Dakota Fails

By Shane Stahl • February 14, 2018 • 2:44 pm

On February 12, South Dakota lawmakers voted down a bill that would have required schools to make public their policies concerning the use of bathrooms by transgender students. The bill was widely derided as a thinly veiled attempt to force anti-transgender policies onto schools.


In an 11-1 vote, the House Judiciary Committee voted to table the bill, essentially killing it for the legislative session.

“We have discussed and discussed and discussed this,” said Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton. “Every time this bill is introduced it targets a vulnerable population, and I regret that very much.”

The bill is the latest in a series of anti-LGBTQ measures put before the South Dakota legislative body. In 2016 the South Dakota Legislature approved a bill restricting restroom access for transgender students, which Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard ultimately vetoed after statewide outrage.  And in 2017, a similar bill was introduced before being withdrawn at its first committee hearing when no proponents appeared to testify.

“Bills like this try to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Wade Pogany, executive director of Associated School Boards of South Dakota. “Schools make it work. We’ve asked repeatedly to allow school boards and local schools to handle these issues, so let’s let them handle it.”

Another bill concerning LGBTQ issues still sits before the legislature, waiting to be calendared — HB 160, which would ban schools from teaching about gender identity. Currently, South Dakota is one of 32 states that do not offer statewide comprehensive non-discrimination protections. To learn about all active legislation in the country regarding non-discrimination, visit our Legislative Tracker here.

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