There are two new executive orders from Governor Kristi Noem. Her general counsel says the moves are designed to ensure that only girls born female play girls’ sports.
The executive orders came moments after House lawmakers failed to override Governor Noem’s partial veto of the bill. Neither the legislation nor the governor’s orders mention transgender girl athletes specifically. But critics say that’s exactly who this is targeting.
The department of Education and Board of Regents, will need to ensure that K-12 school districts and colleges and universities restrict participation in girls' and women’s sports to athletes who can prove they were born female. .
Mark Miller is the governor’s general counsel. He says because legislators did not approve Noem’s changes to the bill o, the governor issued the orders as a temporary fix.
“I think the executive orders speak for themselves,” Miller says. “What they do is set out that [Department of Education] and [Board Of Regents] should take steps to ensure that girls play girls’ sports.”
Miller says the orders are designed to clarify where the state of South Dakota stands on the issue.
However, the state high school athletics association has had a policy on the books since 2013. It requires documentation from doctors and psychiatrists that the athlete is transgender. An independent hearing officer determines if the athlete would have a competitive advantage. One transgender girl athlete has been allowed to play girls’ sports in the eight years the policy has been in place.
There are currently no boys playing on a girls’ sports team in South Dakota.
Dan Swartos is the director of the state athletics association. He says that is not allowed, and a male athlete would be considered an ineligible player on a girls’ sports team.
“The team would have to forfeit every contest that they’ve played in with that student on that roster,” Swartos says. “I’m very confident that that is not happening.”
Swartos says they’re still reviewing the governor’s executive order.
Governor Noem says she will work with legislative leaders to schedule a special legislative session in late May or early June to resolve the issue through legislation. She also wants lawmakers to consider her changes to the implementation of a medical marijuana program and the latest COVID relief package.