Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 24, 2019

The ACLU of South Dakota commends the Senate Education Committee for deferring Senate Bill 49 to the 41st day.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposed Senate Bill 49, a bill that would have declared void the procedure 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. The bill was an attempt to codify discrimination against transgender youth under state law and undermine the oversight and authority of the SDHSAA to ensure equitable and fair participation in high school activities.

“All young people should have the opportunity to play high school sports and have their personal dignity respected. We’re thrilled with the committee’s decision to let the SDHSAA procedure stand,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “No one is harmed by allowing transgender people to compete consistent with who they are. The committee’s motion to kill this bill sends a clear message of inclusion and acceptance for our transgender friends and neighbors and that there is no place for discrimination like this in South Dakota.”

In addition to the ACLU of South Dakota, representatives from the South Dakota School Activities Association, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, the South Dakota Education Association, the Human Rights Campaign, the South Dakota Retailers Association, the Presentation Sisters, Equality South Dakota and the Sioux Falls School District also testified in opposition to Senate Bill 49 in today’s committee hearing.

The SDHSAA policy puts South Dakota in line with at least two dozen other states with inclusive policies for transgender students at some or all high schools, including Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming.


About the ACLU of South Dakota

Decisions made during the annual sessions of the South Dakota Legislature have a deep and lasting impact on our state’s people and communities. As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights. For up-to-date information on the bills the ACLU of South Dakota is tracking, go to

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection, and privacy are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBT communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for people of South Dakota.