Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 5, 2019

Shortly after Senate Bill 49, legislation that would have put restrictions on transgender student athletes, failed in the South Dakota senate, a similar bill is back – this time in the state house – along with two additional bills that would codify discrimination against transgender youth.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bills 1108, 1205 and 1225.

  • House Bill 1108 would prohibit gender identity or gender expression instruction to any student in kindergarten through seventh grade in South Dakota’s public schools. 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.
  • House Bill 1225 would establish that the sole determinant of a student’s sexual identity for the purpose of participating in high school athletics is the sexual identity noted on the student’s birth certificate. Currently, transgender high school students wishing to compete in high school activities may do so, provided they follow the procedure articulated by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. All young people should have the opportunity to play high school sports and have their personal dignity respected. Transgender students are no different. No one is harmed by allowing transgender people to compete consistent with who they are.
  • House Bill 1205 would give a parent the right to refuse consent to health care treatment of any kind to support gender transition of a minor child. Parents, however, already have the ability to withhold treatment to minor children in most cases. This bill just amounts to a proclamation of government disapproval of transgender young people and contributes to the already dangerous rates of family rejection for transgender youth.

“These bills continue to single transgender students out for discrimination in our state,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “When transgender young people are supported by their parents and communities their mental health outcomes are comparable to those of their non-transgender peers. When transgender students are shunned and rejected, however, this leads to high rates of suicide and other serious harms. Like the many bathroom bills in previous years, these bills would hurt transgender youth, violate federal law and expose our state to legal liability.”

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