South Dakota House of Representatives Passes Discriminatory Anti-Transgender Bill

by Nick Morrow

Bill passes 39-30, will now go to the Senate; is one of four anti-transgender measures introduced in-state this year.

HRC responded to the news that the South Dakota House of Representatives has passed HB 1108, which effectively bars instructors who teach grades K-7 in the state’s public schools from instructing students on gender identity or gender expression. This bill would prevent teachers from being able to acknowledge the transgender identity of people they are teaching about as well as prevent them from being able to support students who identify as transgender. This legislation is one of several bills introduced in South Dakota this session that directly targets transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans.

“The intent of this legislation is clearly to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans,” said Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. “If HB 1108 were to become law, it would send a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they are less than their peers. South Dakota was the first state to introduce anti-transgender legislation that would bar trans kids from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and it seems intent on being on the forefront of discrimination yet again, at the risk being out of step with the rest of the country. We implore the Senate to vote against this harmful legislation.”

“The ACLU of South Dakota is disappointed that South Dakota’s representatives voted to pass House Bill 1108,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “It is this type of hostility toward young transgender people from adult leaders that contributes to the high rates of depression and even suicide among transgender young people in our state. But the fight is not over. Our commitment to ensuring that transgender South Dakotans can live openly without discrimination remains strong and urges South Dakota lawmakers to stop hurting transgender youth.”

Earlier this legislative session, lawmakers in South Dakota introduced another anti-transgender bill, SB 49, which would deny transgender student-athletes from participating in school-sanctioned sports based on their gender identity. While that bill was tabled, a similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives. In 2016, South Dakota became the first state to introduce and pass anti-transgender legislation aimed at facility access, before the governor vetoed the measure.