BREAKING: South Dakota Governor Signs Curriculum Censorship Bill

by Delphine Luneau

Bill will erase and marginalize Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and other oppressed voices in and outside of the classroom

Pierre, South Dakota – Today, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed House Bill 1012, a curriculum censorship bill that she authored and submitted to the legislature. The Senate passed the bill in early March.

HB 1012 sanitizes information and truth in school curriculums and does not equip students with the critical thinking skills needed to succeed. The bill forces self-censorship with educators and is an effort to erase and marginalize Indigenous history, LGBTQ+ education, and other oppressed voices in and outside of the classroom.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Noem signing HB 1012 into law:

Educators should not be forced by politicians to teach lessons that edit or remove parts of our country’s history. Students deserve the freedom to learn: to develop the knowledge and skills to reckon with our past and change our nation for the better. But Gov. Noem and South Dakota legislators want to censor the truth and pass laws that ban students from learning about marginalized people, including the LGBTQ+ community. Students in South Dakota deserve to have a safe, high-quality education that teaches honesty, integrity, and the courage to do what’s right. Shame on Gov. Noem.”

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel, Cathryn Oakley

In a powerful moment during the committee hearing on HB 1012, Sen. Troy Heinert, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, shared how the bill would keep educators from teaching about his people's history. He stated, “I do not blame any member of this committee for what happened or the plight of the American Indian. I know it is not your fault, but I do expect you to understand it and be empathetic as to some of the conditions that we currently live in right now,” he said. “Let teachers teach. Let people understand the true history of our state, our country. We don't have to make them feel bad. That's not anybody's intention. But if you don't understand you're bound to repeat it.”

This is the second anti-LGBTQ+ bill signed by Gov. Noem this year. She signed SB 46, an anti-trans sports ban in February, becoming the first governor to sign discriminatory anti-transgender legislation into law in 2022. The bill bans trans youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity and was authored and submitted to the legislature by Gov. Noem.

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