South Dakota Senate Passes Transgender Bill Requiring Students to Use Restrooms Based on Biological Sex at Birth

By Nancy Flory Published on February 17, 2016

A bill that will require students to use restrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms based on their biological sex at birth is on its way to South Dakota’s Governor Dennis Daugaard for his signature after the Senate passed it Tuesday in a 20-15 vote.

House Bill 1008 provides that if the student asserts that his or her gender is different from his or her biological sex at birth, a reasonable accommodation will be made — such as a “single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room or shower room that is designated for use by faculty.”

If Governor Daugaard signs HB 1008 into law, South Dakota will be the first state to enact a law banning students from using restrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex, writes the Argus Leader.

The bill’s author, State Rep. Fred Deutsch believes the bill will help protect students’ privacy. “The primary purpose of the bill is to protect the physical privacy of students from having to expose themselves,” he said, “or be exposed to others, when in a state of undress or nakedness while at school or school functions,” reported WYFF News.

Governor Daugaard has said that he will review the issue and listen to the recorded testimony before making up his mind on whether he plans to sign it into law. However, according to  the Argus Leader, he said it sounded like a good idea.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota and Human Rights Campaign have been outspoken against the measure and are demanding that Gov. Daugaard veto the bill, reports The Associated Press. Chad Griffin, the president of the LGBT-rights organization Human Rights Campaign, said, “History has never looked kindly upon those who attack the basic civil rights of their fellow Americans, and history will not treat kindly those who support this discriminatory measure.”

Supporters of the bill believe the Senate made the right decision. Dale Bartscher, spokesman for the conservative Christian group Family Heritage Alliance Action told the Argus Leader, “This is such the right thing to do to protect all of our students,” he said, “It’s a privacy bill; it’s a modesty bill; it’s sensible South Dakota common sense.”

 

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