UPDATE: Two additional bills targeting LGBTQ people have failed in the South Dakota Legislature. SB 160, which would have prohibited classroom instruction of gender expression or identity, and SB 202, which would have required all public restrooms to have a sign posted giving notice that a person of the “opposite sex” may be in the restroom, were both killed or voted down with bipartisan support. Thank you to the advocates and legislators who made these victories possible!

Congratulations to the team at Equality South Dakota for their successful effort to defeat discrimination of transgender students!

Monday, February 12th, a bill that would have have required school boards to establish and make available their policy regarding the use of bathrooms and locker rooms by transgender students, was tabled in committee. HB 1296 was defeated thanks to the advocacy of Equality South Dakota, the ACLU of South Dakota, and a coalition of school administrators, school boards, and reproductive rights groups.

Travis Letellier with Equality South Dakota said, “Here in South Dakota, we are very happy that our legislature has recognized that this type of bill isn’t necessary.  In fact, it only stirs up controversy and puts transgender students in a spotlight they don’t want to be in.

Schools and school boards across South Dakota have been successfully working with individual students and their families to implement policies that ensure students are able to access all components of an equitable education. By rejecting this bill, our legislators avoided a chaotic situation, and they are letting experts on the ground manage each individual situation as appropriate.”

Similar transgender bathroom bans in South Dakota have also been defeated in 2016 and 2017 thanks to the persistence and vigilance of on-the-ground advocates.

Keep it up and, together, we will win!

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Josh Stickney

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