Today, House lawmakers voted to advance House Bill 1217, legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on the sports teams that match their gender identity.
The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bill 1217. By singling out transgender women and girls and enacting a sweeping ban on participation in athletics, House Bill 1217 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.
“House Bill 1217 is not about protecting fairness in women’s sports. If it were, then it would tackle the actual threats to women’s sports such as severe underfunding, lack of media coverage, sexist ideologies that suggest that women and girls are weak, and pay equity for coaches,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “House Bill 1217 is an attack on transgender women and girls that is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state. Inclusive teams that support all athletes and encourage participation should be the standard for all school sports.”
This is the seventh attempt by South Dakota lawmakers to prevent transgender athletes from competing. After the SDHSAA enacted its inclusive transgender sports policy, lawmakers tried to meddle with the association’s authority, first with House Bill 1161 in 2015 and then with House Bill 1111 in 2016. Four additional bills – House Bill 1195 in 2015, House Bill 1112 in 2016 and Senate Bill 49 and House Bill 1225 in 2019 – would have restricted participation in high school athletic activities to the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate. All bills were killed.
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.