Today, HRC responded to the news that South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard will meet with transgender students before making his decision on whether to sign HB 1008 – outrageous legislation that would prevent trans students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.
“Knowledge is power, and we hope that by learning about their experiences, the daily challenges they face, and the damage this bill will inflict on their lives, Gov. Daugaard will show true leadership and reject this measure,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “History has never looked kindly upon those who attack the basic civil rights of their fellow Americans, and history will not treat kindly those who support this discriminatory measure.”
HB 1008 would put South Dakota school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them into an untenable position of choosing between state and federal law. It would also tie the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents. The U.S. Department of Justice has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.”
The legislation would only exacerbate the discrimination and harassment that transgender students already face. Based on findings from HRC’s groundbreaking survey of over 10,000 LGBT-identified youth, the HRC Foundation, in partnership with Gender Spectrum, released a report in 2014 on gender-expansive youth – or young respondents who identified as transgender or chose “other.” Findings revealed the heartbreaking reality that gender-expansive youth take the brunt of exclusion and verbal harassment both inside and outside of school compared to their peers. For example, 40 percent of gender-expansive youth reported being excluded “frequently or often” by their peers. Nearly the same number of these youth reported “frequently or often” being verbally harassed and called names at school, and 42 percent reported being called anti-gay slurs.
HRC and the ACLU of South Dakota have repeatedly called on lawmakers to stop the attacks on transgender children. While HB 1008 is dangerously close to becoming law, two other anti-LGBT bills have been passed by the full House of Representatives, and another anti-transgender bill was passed through committee just this morning.