Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 28, 2019

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bill 1108, a bill that would prohibit gender identity or gender expression instruction to any student in kindergarten through seventh grade in South Dakota’s public schools.

This bill, like others that have been debated by the South Dakota Legislature, is plainly intended to target transgender and gender non-conforming students. House Bill 1108 comes on the heels of Senate Bill 49, a bill that was deferred to the 41st day but 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 to the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate.

“Everybody deserves to feel accepted and supported in school. When transgender young people are supported by their parents and communities their mental health outcomes are comparable to those of their non-transgender peers,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “When transgender students are shunned and rejected, however, this leads to high rates of suicide and other serious harms.”

The language of House Bill 1108 is so broad, however, that it would inhibit instruction of gender at all and could limit any mention of gender differences between boys and girls or gender expression, like masculinity and femininity.

“By preventing any mention of gender identity or gender expression, this bill would thwart teachers, administrators and counselors from creating a safe and welcoming educational environment for all students in our public schools,” Skarin said.

Additionally, by targeting transgender and gender non-conforming students, House Bill 1108 would open the door to costly litigation.

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 As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.

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.

For up-to-date information on the bills the ACLU of South Dakota is tracking, go to