Senate Bill 49 would declare void the policy adopted by the South Dakota High School Activities Association to ensure that transgender student athletes can participate in high school sports and would instead restrict participation in athletic activities to the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate.
Currently, transgender high school students wishing to compete in high school activities may do so, provided they follow the policy articulated by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. Senate Bill 49 would eliminate this and the oversight of the SDHSAA, preventing transgender students from participating in athletics simply because of who they are. The bill is another effort to codify discrimination against transgender youth under state law and undermine the authority of the SDHSAA to ensure equitable and fair participation in high school activities.
The ACLU of South Dakota opposes Senate Bill 49. This bill is simply an attempt to single transgender students out for discrimination in South Dakota. Like the many bathroom bills before this, SB49 would hurt transgender students, violate federal law and expose our state to legal liability. The policy that this bill seeks to undo has been in place since 2015 without any problems. All that existing policy does is allow fair and equitable participation in high school activities by all South Dakota high school students. However; this bill, like its predecessor bills, seeks to erode that fairness and is just a solution in search of a problem. All young people should have the opportunity to play high school sports and have their personal dignity respected.