Lawmakers in the South Dakota House of Representatives passed an anti-transgender bill on Tuesday (12 February).
House Bill 1108 addresses the discussion of gender identity and gender dysphoria. If it becomes law, it will ‘ prohibit certain gender dysphoria instruction in public schools’.
More specifically, it states that there can be ‘no instruction’ on such topics to any student in K-7 grades.
Several state representatives and senators, all of whom are Republican, co-sponsored the bill. They first introduced the bill in January.
One of the sponsors, Rep. Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids), explained his support of the bill: ‘I’m 36 years old, and I’m still confused as to what woman-ness and man-ness is, so I don’t know why we’d be teaching that to someone in the fourth grade.’
Criticism from teachers and LGBTI groups
Some teachers and advocates testified against the bill. They said it addresses a problem that doesn’t actually exist.
Sioux Falls teacher Tony Martinet said: ‘I think one of the problems with this bill is it implies a lack of trust in our educators to make appropriate decisions about their students.’
Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said the intent of the bill is ‘clearly to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans’.
‘It would send a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they are less than their peers,’ she continued.
‘South Dakota was the first state to introduce anti-transgender legislation that would bar trans kids from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and it seems intent on being on the forefront of discrimination yet again, at the risk being out of step with the rest of the country. We implore the Senate to vote against this harmful legislation.’
The ACLU of the state also condemned the bill.
Libby Skarin, policy director, said: ‘It is this type of hostility toward young transgender people from adult leaders that contributes to the high rates of depression and even suicide among transgender young people in our state.’