March 1, 2016

TLDEF Applauds South Dakota Governor for Vetoing Bill That Targeted Transgender Students for Discrimination

New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund applauds South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for vetoing a bill that would have singled out transgender students for discrimination by prohibiting them from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match who they are as boys and girls. In February, South Dakota lawmakers passed House Bill 1008. The bill would have restricted facility access to students of the “same biological sex,” and defined that to mean “the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person's chromosomes and identified at birth by a person's anatomy.”

Last week the Governor met with transgender students who explained how harmful it would be to their health and well being to deny them use of bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with who they are. Thousands of activists across the nation joined them in urging the Governor to reject the legislation. Today the Governor did just that. Had the bill been enacted, it would have been the first law in the nation targeting transgender students for bias.

In a statement announcing the veto, the Governor stated in part: “Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity.”

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman

“We commend Governor Daugaard for vetoing this cruel legislation that would have mandated discrimination against transgender students by forcing them to use bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match who they are. Transgender young people already face extraordinarily high rates of bullying in school, and this bill would have made them targets for further harassment. To his credit, the Governor listened to students’ concerns, took their words to heart and rejected this harmful bill.

“The legislation also violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools, and would inevitably have prompted legal action against South Dakota.

“This veto is welcome news, especially at a time when transgender Americans face an onslaught of discriminatory bills in states around the country that seek to restrict their access to public spaces like bathrooms. We urge lawmakers to reject legislation that targets the transgender community for discrimination and harassment. These bills serve only to harm a vulnerable and marginalized population. Transgender Americans deserve to be protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect in society.”