Transgender sports bill passes South Dakota Senate, heads to Gov. Noem’s desk

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 2:19 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota legislature has passed a bill that will prohibit transgender women and girls from playing sports on teams that match their gender identity.

House Bill 1217 was passed on Monday and now heads to Governor Noem’s desk. Opponents call the bill an attempt to “solve a problem that doesn’t exist” and say it violates the U.S. Constitution.

“In an attempt to ‘level the playing field,’ House Bill 1217 excludes an entire group of women and girls from meaningful participation in sports,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “House Bill 1217 isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports. It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life.”

Governor Noem tweeted praising its passage and signals her intent to sign it into law.

The ACLU of South Dakota, the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA), the Sioux Falls Sports Authority, the South Dakota Board of Regents, the School Administrators of South Dakota, Sioux Falls Pride, and The Transformation Project all oppose the bill.

SDHSAA said that the bill was unnecessary from the perspective that no transgender females are currently partaking in female high school athletics. Further, in the last ten years, only one has in the state.

“We can’t be a state that welcomes transgender people if we are actively passing bills that discriminate against those very people,” said Cody Ingle, the Vice President for Sioux Falls Pride.

“Transgender South Dakotans are trying to survive, and they’re trying to find their place in this state, and legislation like this tells them that they’re not welcome here,” said Susan Williams, the Executive Director of the Transformation Project.

However, in an impassioned speech on the floor State Sen. Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) said now was the time to act on this matter.

“Just remember the constitutional rights of women, and all that has been fought for,” Sutton said. “Lets not leave it to local control, lets make it fair. South Dakota deserves the best.”

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