SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The 2022 South Dakota State Legislative Session officially gavels in on Tuesday. However, multiple bills have already been pre-filed for the session.
House Bill 1006 and Senate Bill 46 would limit who can participate in women’s sports. Both bills would only allow athletes listed as female on their birth certificate can take part on women’s sports teams. It would impact athletes from kindergarten through college.
Opponents say these bills are harmful because they exclude transgender girls from playing with other girls. However, there’s another pre-filed bill that LGBTQ+ advocates are keeping an eye on.
House Bill 1005 would designate any multi-occupancy bathroom, shower room or changing room, located in a public school, to be used only by students of the same biological sex. That would also apply to sleeping accommodations on school trips.
“This bill was last brought in 2016, or a bill like it, and it passed 58-10 in the House, 20-15 in the Senate. It was vetoed by then Governor Daugaard because he said the bill is not needed. Well now, with the Vermillion School Board policy, I think everybody would say it’s needed,” Rep. Fred Deutsch (R) Watertown said.
In November, the Vermillion School District passed a policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender they identify with.
“I think Vermillion took the right steps here to listen to their community and act on the needs of folks that reside in the city,” Adam Jorgensen, chairman of Equality SD, said. “So I think those folks did a great thing there and I think lawmakers from across the state can take note of that.”
Advocates for the LGBTQ+ community in South Dakota believe House Bill 1005 would be an attack on transgender kids. Representative Fred Deutsch, the prime sponsor of the bill, disagrees.
“Is it right for compulsory education to exist in South Dakota if students are going to be exposed to the opposite biological sex when showering, going to the bathroom, et cetera,” Deutsch said. “And I think the answer is no.”
“I think if legislators would actually meet with transgender students, transgender kids, their families, transgender young adults, they would see why these bills are hurtful and impact them in a negative way,” Susan Williams, executive director of the Transformation Project Advocacy Network, said.
House Bill 1005 says that students can request a ‘reasonable accommodation’ from the school district if they are unable or unwilling to use a multi-occupancy facility.
Protests against these bills have been planned for Saturday, January 15th in six different South Dakota cities.