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SDHSAA Recommends Schools Pause On Transgender Athlete Waivers



The South Dakota High School Athletics Association is recommending schools hold off on submitting any transgender athlete waiver applications. 

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem recently issued two executive orders that could be at odds with a federal justice department memo. 

Governor Noem’s executive orders state that only girls—based on a determination at birth—can play girls’ sports. Critics say that ultimately prevents transgender girls from playing girls’ sports.  

There are currently no transgender girl athlete’s doing that. 

Dan Swartos is the director of the activities association. 

He says they recommend schools wait to see if the courts settle the issue or the legislature takes it up. 

“Our advice to schools has been to sit tight on it right now, to see what happens in the legislature and within the court system.” 

Swartos says he believes their policy is legally sound and in line with the memo put out by the department of justice last week. 

“In the absence of a court addressing this specific situation, we feel that our policy is where it needs to be.” 

Since the governor’s executive orders the association has not received any applications for a transgender athlete waiver. 

Governor Noem wants to call a special session—in either late May or early June--to address the issue. Her office has not released any draft proposals. A Republican leader in the Senate says that chamber has little appetite to take up the issue.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.