Media Contact

Janna Farley,

March 25, 2021

As the fate of House Bill 1217 remains in flux, the ACLU of South Dakota is urging the South Dakota Legislature to oppose the bill in any form when legislators reconvene in Pierre on Monday for Veto Day.

House Bill 1217, legislation that would ban women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity, violates both the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which protects all students – including those who are transgender – from discrimination based on sex. Gov. Kristi Noem’s proposed style and form recommendations do not address the bill’s unlawful discrimination and still leave South Dakota open to litigation and economic fallout.

“House Bill 1217 has never been about leveling the playing field for student athletes,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “It’s been obvious from the beginning that this discriminatory legislation is about creating a solution to problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

The ACLU of South Dakota issued a letter today to all legislators detailing the reasons to veto House Bill 1217.

  • House Bill 1217 will harm transgender youth.
  • House Bill 1217 violates the Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
  • House Bill 1217 risks the loss of significant amounts of education funding and will result in high litigation costs.

The ACLU’s letter to legislators is below.

About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

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 LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit 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 the people of South Dakota.