South Dakota Legislature Passes Discriminatory Bill Targeting Transgender Students; Lambda Legal Urges Governor to Veto

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February 16, 2016

Today the South Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1008, a discriminatory bill that prevents transgender students from accessing restrooms and single-sex facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Lambda Legal is calling on Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto the bill.

Kyle Palazzolo, Staff Attorney in the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal, said:

House Bill 1008 is an attack on some of the most vulnerable members of our community, transgender young people. An attack like this is unprecedented and extreme. South Dakota would be the first state that goes to such lengths to target and harm transgender youth. Shame on the members of the South Dakota Legislature who voted in favor of this bill for ignoring the fundamental obligation that schools have to create a safe learning environment for ALL students. This bill sends a dangerous message and may limit the potential educational outcomes for already vulnerable transgender students. We strongly urge Governor Daugaard to veto this bill upon arrival.

House Bill 1008 prohibits public schools from allowing transgender students from using the restroom or facilities that corresponds to their gender identity by defining “biological sex” so narrowly that it would be impossible for any transgender person to ever use the facilities that they feel safest and most comfortable in. The Department of Justice has made clear that prohibiting transgender students from using the facilities that correspond with their gender identity is sex discrimination for which penalties can include loss of federal funding. The state of South Dakota depends on more than $205M in federal funding for education.

Palazzolo added:

Many transgender students already feel isolated and are bullied because they are perceived as different. Middle school and high school are stressful and difficult times for any young person, but especially for young transgender people. A law like this could have devastating effects on transgender students who already feel vulnerable and alone.

Read the press release.