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Education

Bill Banning Gender Dysphoria Instruction Passes House

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SDPB

A bill banning instruction on gender dysphoria in kindergarten through seventh grade passes through the house of representatives. Supporters say the bill protects students from confusion about their gender identities. Critics say it discriminates against students who are transgender. 

Gender dysphoria is clinically significant distress that occurs when a person’s gender identity does not match the identity they’ve been assigned by others. Treatments for this diagnosis range from talk therapy to identity-affirming surgery.

One of the most common critiques of the bill banning instruction on the issue is a lack of clear and specific examples that this is occurring in South Dakota schools. Representative Kelly Sullivan says this bill will in fact make it harder for educators to support transgender students.

“It is reckless to consider this legislation when not a single parent, teacher, administrator, counselor, or any other person affiliated with schools in our state stepped up to support this bill in committee," says Sullivan. "Those folks were in the room, but they all asked the committee to vote against this bill.”

While multiple representatives with experience in education spoke for and against the bill, none could recall a specific instance of instructing on gender dysphoria in the classroom.

Representative Tom Pischke is the bill’s prime sponsor. He says he’s received emails and comments from parents thanking him for bringing this bill.

“This is not a dangerous bill. No one is targeting kids. This bill just prohibits teachers from instructing gender fluidity. I’d submit to you this bill actually helps to save children from this dysphoria. This bill focuses on not instructing to this disease. If a student needs counseling they should seek that and talk to their parents,” says Pischke.

House bill 1108 passes through the house on a 39 to 30 vote. It goes next to the senate.