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Transgender Bathroom Bill Could Return On 2018 Ballot

Chynna Lockett

A version of the transgender bathroom bill that was vetoed by Governor Dennis Daugaard earlier this year could make its way to the 2018 ballot for a public vote.

A group is pushing for enough signatures to bring the issue of transgender students and bathroom usage to voters statewide.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says supporters are about to start circulating petitions for measure that requires transgender students use the bathroom corresponding with their assigned sex at birth.

Ballot measure sponsor Jack Heyd of Box Elder says he wants to protect children and ensure that students have privacy. He says he fears people going into restrooms for "nefarious" reasons. Heyd is chairman of the Committee to Ensure Student Privacy and did not immediately want to comment on tape.

The language of the ballot measure closely mirrors the 2016 House Bill, which Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed.

Libby Skarin is the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union in South Dakota. She says the ACLU will fight any policy or proposed legislation that targets transgender children.

“Really troubling, because it’s clear that this is an effort to get the rights of transgendered kids on the ballot," Skarin says. "Frankly, we think that that is shameful. We don’t think that these already vulnerable children should be targeted by a statewide ballot measure and we don’t think people should be voting on the rights of these kids.”

According to the language of the ballot measure, if a student’s gender identity is different from the student’s biological sex, a school district must provide reasonable accommodations for the transgender student. That must come with parental consent.

“What we think that would do is further stigmatize transgender students," Skarin says. "It would force them to use isolated restrooms that none of their peers do. Typically, we’re assuming that, if something like that were to become law, schools aren’t going to build these new restrooms. So, we’re talking about kids forced to go to what is probably a teacher’s bathroom or a faculty bathroom across the building and be singled out more than they already are in front of their peers.”

Supporters say measures like this protect student privacy, because it keeps students of different biological sexes in separate bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.


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