Metro Weekly

South Dakota goes for trifecta in pushing anti-LGBT bills

Two bills target transgender students, while a third provides religious exemptions for LGBT opponents

South Dakota State Capitol (Jim Bowen, via Wikimedia Commons).
South Dakota State Capitol (Jim Bowen, via Wikimedia Commons).

South Dakota is on a roll when it comes to devising ways to target its LGBT community for discrimination. 

A South Dakota State House committee voted 10-3 to pass a measure to ban transgender students from participating in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity, overriding the current policy of the South Dakota High School Activities Organization.

The committee also passed a second measure that would prevent a state or local government from taking retaliatory action against anyone who speaks or acts in opposition to homosexuality, transgenderism or same-sex marriage in accordance with a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” Equality advocates have warned that the bill could also be used to target single mothers due to a provision that provides protections to those who believe “sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage.”

The committee’s approval of both bills moves them a step closer to being passed and signed into law, as both now await votes by the full House. If passed, they will bring the number of anti-LGBT bills approved by South Dakota lawmakers to three. Last week, the House voted 58-10 to pass another bill that targets restroom use by transgender students in South Dakota schools, limiting it only to the restroom of their biological sex. The measure defies a ruling by the U.S. Department of Education that denying transgender students access to restrooms or changing facilities that are consistent with their gender identity violates Title IX’s prohibitions on sex discrimination.

“Fairness and equality are under attack in South Dakota,” Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “Both of these pieces of legislation shamefully passed today by the House State Affairs committee are dangerously far-reaching and would have severe consequences, not just for LGBT South Dakotans and their families, but for the entire Mount Rushmore State. Fair-minded people across the state must stand up and demand their lawmakers stop these extreme, discriminatory measures.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

Leave a Comment: