South Dakota is considering a bill that would force transgender high school students to play sports with the gender they were assigned at birth.
In 2015, the South Dakota High School Activities Association adopted a policy allowing students to “participate in SDHSAA activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s record.”
This new Senate Bill 49 would overrule that policy.
The bill’s sponsor, Republic Senator Jim Bolin, tried to introduce similar legislation back in 2015, but was unsuccessful.
“I just firmly believe that those who are males should play in sports designated for males and those who are female… should play in sports designated for females, according to your birth certificate, he said. “It’s about fair competition.”
The ACLU of South Dakota is already pushing back against the bill, and pointed out that there haven’t been any reported incidents linked to the “inclusive policy” since its implementation in 2015.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association’s inclusive policy has been in place since 2015 without incident. Trans kids in South Dakota don’t deserve to be targeted and discriminated against.
More about SB49 here: https://t.co/NmfO8B1cVf
— ACLU of South Dakota (@ACLUSouthDakota) January 14, 2019
“No one is harmed by allowing transgender people to compete consistent with who they are,” said SD ACLU policy director Libby Skarin.
Critics of the bill are concerned that should it gain any traction, it could encourage similar bills to be brought up for debate in other states in the near future, similar to how anti-trans bathroom legislation attempts swept the nation in 2016.
Chase Strangio, an attorney who works with the ACLU, told Bustle that he’s confident that even should the bill make some headway in South Dakota, it would ultimately be struck down due to protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity in Title IX.
"This isn't really about having trans girls participate on the boys' side, or trans boys participate on the girls' side. They just don't want trans people to participate at all," Strangio said.
"It's once again lawmakers trying to manufacture a problem that doesn't exist, undo a policy that's been in place for many years, and disrupt the educational opportunities that trans students might be able to enjoy in South Dakota."