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State House approves bills targeting transgender students

Kealey Bultena
The South Dakota House of Representatives.

House lawmakers are passing a pair of bills aimed at transgender South Dakota students.

One bill prevents transgender girls from participating in girls sports. It passed 50-17.

That’s Governor Kristi Noem’s bill. The Republican governor says she will sign the legislation.

The other bill requires transgender students in South Dakota to use bathrooms as determined by their sex at birth. The bill passed 38-29. It now heads to the state Senate.

Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a similar bill in 2016 after meeting with transgender youth.

Supporters say the bills are needed to protect girls and student privacy.

Some Republicans who voted against the legislation say school bathroom policy decisions should be left to local school boards.

Other critics of the legislation say the bills send a message lawmakers are fine with trampling on the rights of transgender South Dakotans.

The ACLU of South Dakota says the bills violate federal and constitutional law.

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.
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