The South Dakota Senate voted 20-15 to pass HB 1008, a dangerous bill that singles out transgender students and prohibits them from using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with who they are. The bill already passed the House and now goes to the governor’s office.
Statement from Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi:
“It is distressing and disturbing that South Dakota legislators would jeopardize the state school system’s funding and the lives of South Dakota youth in an effort to single out transgender students for discrimination, harassment, and exclusion. Every single child, including transgender youth, should have the opportunity to succeed and be treated fairly by our schools and elected officials. Using state law to force a student to use a separate bathroom from their peers just because they are transgender is not only dangerous and wrong, it is a violation of federal law.
If signed by the governor, this bill would endanger students and open up South Dakota schools to legal chaos, liability, and the loss of millions in federal funds. Transgender Law Center urges Governor Daugaard to veto this bill and stop South Dakota from becoming the first state in the country to fly in the face of federal law by mandating discrimination against transgender young people.”
Thomas Lewis, a transgender high school student, shared the harms of this bill with South Dakota’s Senate Education Committee last week: “People go to the bathroom. It’s one of the most natural things a person can do. No student should be fearful or anxious about which bathroom to use simply because of who they are. When I see a bill like HB 1008 that targets transgender people like me, it hurts. It makes me feel ashamed to call South Dakota my home. And it makes me feel different, as if I am not human. This bill would single out transgender students like me by forcing me to choose between using a different bathroom from the rest of my peers and using a bathroom that doesn’t correspond with my gender identity. This is only going to further bullying, harassment and discrimination. It opens the door to ridicule and public insult by our peers when really, lawmakers should be focusing on passing legislation where every student can be free to be open about who they are in an accepting environment.”
Transgender Law Center changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.