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Noem sends anti-transgender sports bill back to South Dakota Legislature

South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)
South Dakota State Capitol (FILE)(DAKOTA NEWS NOW)
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 4:26 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Governor Noem has sent House Bill 1217 back to the legislature with suggested revisions.

House Bill 1217 would prohibit transgender girls and women from competing on athletic teams that match their gender identities. Noem initially signaled her intent to sign the bill when it passed earlier this month.

On Friday, Gov. Noem released a statement that she was sending it back to the South Dakota Legislature with style and form changes “to address the potential unintended consequences.”

In one of her four suggestions, Gov. Noem wants the legislature to strike an entire section that requires a student-athlete to verify, each year, that the student “is not taking and has not taken, during the preceding twelve months, any performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids.”

“Presumably, this requirement was included to address a student taking these drugs as a part of a gender transition, but House Bill 1217 is not limited in this way. Rather, if a male student-athlete failed to make the football team, and later learned that another student on the team was taking steroids without disclosing it, the student who didn’t make the team would be entitled to sue both the school and the steroid-using student for damages,” said Gov. Noem.

Gov. Noem also says she is concerned that House Bill 1217 is “unrealistic in the context of collegiate athletics.” Many House Bill 1217 had the potential to put all NCAA events held in South Dakota in jeopardy, including the Summit League tournament.

For example, in 2016 North Carolina passed the “Bathroom Bill”, and because of it, the NCAA relocated seven events out of the state stating their concern for civil rights protections.

In the last five years, Sioux Falls has played host to nine NCAA championship and regional events in the sports of basketball, hockey, and wrestling. Including hosting the Summit League Championships since 2009 which boosts the area’s economy.

“Overall, these style and form clarifications protect women sports while also showing empathy for youths struggling with what they understand to be their gender identity,” said Noem.

Gov Noem and supporters of the legislation say it was proposed to protect women in sports. Opponents say the bill was an attempt to “solve a problem that doesn’t exist” and say it violates the U.S. Constitution.

You can read all four of Noem’s style and form suggestions in full below:

To achieve the legislative intent of protecting girls’ sports, while simultaneously avoiding potential unintended consequences, I recommend the following Style and Form changes to the Enrolled version of House Bill 1217:

1. Revise Section 1 to read:

13-67-1 Athletic teams and sports-–Designation by sex--Participation.

Any athletic team or sport that is sponsored or sanctioned by an accredited elementary or secondary school public school, a school district, or an association meeting the requirements of § 13-36-4, or an institution of higher education under the control of the Board of Regents or the South Dakota Board of Technical Education must be expressly designated as being:

(1) A male team or sport;

(2) A female team or sport; or

(3) A coeducational team or sport.

A team or sport designated as being female is available only to participants who are female, based on their biological sex, as reflected on the birth certificate or affidavit provided upon initial enrollment in accordance with verified in accordance with § 13-27-3.1 13-67-2.

2. Strike Section 2;

3. Revise former Section 3 to read:

13-67-2 3 Complaint—Investigation—Adverse Action.

A governmental entity, licensing or accrediting organization, or athletic association or organization may not entertain a complaint, open an investigation, or take any adverse action against an accredited elementary or secondary school, or a school district, or an association meeting the requirements of § 13-36-4 or an institution of higher education, or against any person employed by, or a governing board member of, such an elementary or secondary school, or school district, or institution, or an association meeting the requirements of § 13-36-4, for maintaining athletic teams or sports in accordance with § 13-67-1.

4. Strike Section 4.

The proposed revisions limit House Bill 1217 to elementary and secondary school athletics, which are primarily conducted among South Dakota schools and at the high school level are governed by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, a creature of South Dakota law. The proposed revisions will also remedy the vague language regarding civil liability and the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

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