SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A bill introduced in the South Dakota Legislature Wednesday would require student athletes across the state to sign a document stating their biological sex. It would also limit who can play in girls and women’s sports.
House Bill 1217 is being called ‘an act to promote continued fairness in women’s sports.’
“You’ve seen some things happening across the country and we don’t want them to happen in South Dakota. We want women to have a fair advantage when they compete,” Rep. Rhonda Milstead, (R) Hartford, said.
But the ACLU of South Dakota says the measure is an act against the transgender community.
“House Bill 1217 would exclude transgender students from enjoying the same opportunities that, and programs, as their peers, essentially,” Jett Jonelis, an advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota said.
If passed, the bill would only allow participation in athletic teams and sports based on biological sex. This bill would impact athletes at any level from elementary to college.
Representative Rhonda Milstead of Hartford is one of the 20 sponsors.
“You have some things happening in the country where biological males want to play sports but there’s a huge difference between men and women. Their body size, their muscle mass, testosterone levels, their lung capacity,” Milstead said.
“There’s this idea that trans girls will have this, you know, unfair advantage, but the thing is, there’s no evidence that there’s a, like categorically, that there is an advantage for transgender women athletes,” Jonelis said.
At the high school level, the South Dakota High School Sports Association has already adopted a transgender policy, which states students can participate in SDHSAA activities based on their gender identity, regardless of what gender is listed on the student’s record. That policy was adopted during the 2013-2014 school year.
“There’s an equal opportunity to participate in sports for biological men and biological women. The minute that a male participates on a female team, there’s a female that’s going to get left off and she has no place to go,” Milstead said.
“We need to let kids participate in sports and, you know, that includes transgender people. Transgender people belong everywhere. They belong in sports,” Jonelis said.
The executive director for the South Dakota High School Activities Association told KELOLAND News that there are currently no students participating as transgender females. He says since adopting the transgender policy, only one transgender female has participated in activities.