Free shipping over $99 | Interest Free *no credit check* financing is available!

South Dakota Becomes First State To Pass Anti-Transgender Student Restroom Bill

by Dominic Holden February 16, 2016

Republican state senator Brock Greenfield

By a 15–20 vote, the South Dakota state senate passed a bill on Tuesday to ban transgender students from using school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

After passing the state house earlier this month, House Bill 1008 is expected to head to Gov. Dennis Daugaard in the coming days.

Provided that he signs it, South Dakota would be the first state in the country to pass such a law — likely teeing up a clash with the federal government, which has taken the position that such policies constitute illegal discrimination.

"This issue has been thrust upon us by an activist group of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," said Republican Sen. Brock Greenfield.

Sen. Brock Greenfield said on the senate floor that the legislation is a response to the Obama administration's push for transgender rights in public schools.

"This issue has been thrust upon us by an activist group of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," Greenfield said. "It's only been a product of recent decisions made at the federal level."

He cited constituent concerns about "co-mingling" of individuals of different birth sex, saying it was "inappropriate."

"Do you feel it appropriate for a 13-year-old girl to be exposed to the anatomy of a boy?" he asked.

But Democrats criticized the bill in floor speeches, arguing the measure presented a slippery slope to further discrimination and could prompt the federal government to withdraw funding for South Dakota's public schools.

Sen. Bernie Hunhoff insisted there were no incidents of transgender students causing problems by using school restrooms — and the state could face retaliation.

"We could have egg on our face with a tourism boycott," Hunhoff added.

House Bill 1008 states that “every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex.”

The bill defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person's chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth.”

Although the measure does not mention transgender people specifically, the legislation is the latest in a national movement to ban transgender people from using restrooms that reflect their gender identity. Conservative organizations have united around a battle cry of banning “men in women’s bathrooms” to push such policies in schools — and to block or repeal LGBT nondiscrimination laws.

Under Obama, the Departments of Justice and Education have argued that Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 — which bans sex discrimination in publicly funded schools — also bans transgender discrimination as a form of sex discrimination.

The Justice Department weighed in to support a transgender student in the country's most advanced lawsuit over student restroom access. Federal lawyers filed an amicus brief before the 4th Circuit Court in October backing Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy trying to overturn a school district policy that bans students from restrooms that don't reflect their "biological gender."

In South Dakota, the bill makes a gesture to providing a “reasonable accommodation” for transgender students — such as providing a single-person restroom — on the condition that it doesn’t burden the school district. But that accommodation would not include allowing trans students to use restrooms that reflect their gender identity.

Gov. Daugaard's office did not immediately respond to a request to comment on whether he would approve or veto the bill. However, Daugaard said at a recent press conference, “I have not met a transgender person that I’m aware of."

Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, told BuzzFeed News that for the time being, “There is no state that bans transgender students from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity.”




Dominic Holden
Dominic Holden

Author


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Think

10 Ten Iconic Images Of Love & Defiance Illustrate The Road To Equality

by jjkeyes October 01, 2016

  On June 26, 2015, we celebrated and cried tears of joy as the US Supreme Court decreed the end to marriage discrimination. Then we snapped photos with our smart phones and posted them on social media, mimicking the process by which Americans got to know us and support marriage equality in the first place. In [...]

Continue Reading →

Britney Spears: “My Twenties Were Horrible.” Well, Yes.

by Derek de Koff October 01, 2016

Britney Spears recently visited the British chat show Lorraine to be gushed on by overzealous interviewer Dan Wootton and discuss her new album Glory, the joys of being single, and why she’s enjoying her thirties. Related: Acquaint Yourself With Britney Spears’ Harem Of Male Backup Dancers “I like my thirties way more than my twenties,” she says. “My twenties were [...]

Continue Reading →

“Finding Prince Charming” Spoof 1,000 Times Better Than Actual Show

by Derek de Koff October 01, 2016

Oversharing is the order of the day on every reality show; a point perfectly illustrated in “Totally Yourself on Prince Charming,” a pitch-perfect skewering of the overall cringeworthiness of Logo’s answer to “The Bachelor.” Related: When Your Gay Friends Give You Terrible Advice The short clip stars Go-Go Boy Interrupted‘s Jimmy Fowlie and comedian Tom Lenk as two [...]

Continue Reading →