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Janna Farley,

February 13, 2019

After a bill 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.  

Like Senate Bill 49, House Bill 1225 is another effort to codify discrimination against transgender youth under state law, establishing that the sole determinant of a student’s sexual identity for the purpose of participating in high school sports is the sexual identity noted on the student’s birth certificate.

The ACLU of South Dakota has placed a full-page ad in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader today, Feb. 13, to show the widespread opposition to this legislation.

The ad lists the more than 200 athletes nationwide that signed an online petition urging South Dakota legislators to oppose bills that discriminate against transgender student athletes

The petition reads, in part:

“We know first-hand how formative athletic competition can be. Any effort to exclude trangender athletes from participating in sports because of who they are will damage entire teams, leagues and school sports histories. We hope everyone in South Dakota can heed our message that inclusion is the key to successful education, vocational and athletic development.”

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. House Bill 1225 would eliminate this policy and the oversight of the SDHSAA, preventing transgender students from participating in athletics simply because of who they are.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association policy now in place puts South Dakota in line with at least two dozen other states with inclusive policies for transgender students at some or all high schools, including Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming. If House Bill 1225 passes, South Dakota would be the first and only state in which the state legislature intervened to override a policy put in place by the association that knows high school activities the best. 

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 As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.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



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