Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 6, 2022

Year after year, it’s the same story: Issues that matter most to South Dakotans get ignored as some lawmakers continue to attack the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community.

Though the 2022 session doesn’t officially start until next week, it’s already happening with three pre-filed bills that target transgender South Dakotans.

House Bill 1005 designates school bathrooms, locker rooms or sleeping rooms on overnight trips as single sex, defining sex as that which was assigned at birth. This means transgender students would be prohibited from using the space that affirms their gender identity. Policies that single out transgender youth like this violate federal and constitutional law.

South Dakota lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation in 2016 with House Bill 1108, which Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed, and Senate Bill 115, which was withdrawn at its first hearing.

House Bill 1006 and Senate Bill 46 would ban transgender women and girls from competing on the sports teams that match their gender identity and forbid their participation in both high school and collegiate athletic activities. By discriminating against people who are transgender, both bills violate Title IX and equal protection laws.

South Dakota lawmakers have attempted to prevent transgender athletes from competing multiple times over the years. 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. Five additional bills – House Bill 1195 in 2015, House Bill 1112 in 2016, Senate Bill 49 and House Bill 1225 in 2019 and House Bill 1217 – would have restricted participation in high school athletic activities to the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate. None of the bills were signed into law. 

“Let’s get real – these bills aren’t motivated by privacy concerns or fairness concerns. They’re motivated by ignorance, misinformation and fear,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “With serious issues like education funding, workforce housing, childcare, criminal justice reform, and tenuous state-tribal relations, it’s disturbing that some legislators keep coming back to the same discriminatory issues year after year. We urge South Dakota lawmakers to focus on the issues that really matter.”

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.