SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Transformation Project has filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Kristi Noem and the Secretary of Health in their official capacities.
In December, the state’s Department of Health terminated a contract it had with the advocacy group.
That contract allowed the organization to create a community health worker position using federal grant money.
The Transformation Project works with transgender youth and their families.
“Having that grant cancelled, we believe was discrimination against the transgender community. So we’re very grateful that the lawsuit has been filed and that we can move forward,” Susan Williams, executive director of the Transformation Project, said.
The lawsuit her organization filed is being taken on by a team of lawyers at Robins Kaplan Law Firm.
“We’re very concerned with the state’s actions and particularly the impact it has on South Dakota’s LGBTQ community,” Brendan Johnson, a partner at Robins Kaplan Law Firm, said. “So we wanted to take a stand and send a message that we will fight any unconstitutional or unlawful action by the state of South Dakota.”
Johnson classifies the termination of the Transformation Project’s contract as bullying behavior by the state.
“And it’s not okay to discriminate against any community in South Dakota,” Johnson said. “It’s not okay to discriminate against our LGBTQ neighbors. In my view, our LGBTQ community is a beautiful and proud part of the fabric of our state and we want to make sure that their constitutional rights are protected.”
When the contract was terminated, Ian Fury–the governor’s chief of communications–told the conservative news outlet The Daily Signal, that the contract was signed without Noem’s approval and that the state does not support the organization’s efforts.
He also alleged that the Transformation Project failed to submit quarterly reports, a requirement of the state contract.
In December, Williams said the termination of the contract was “unwarranted” and believes they were in compliance with the terms of the contract.