Noem Says She Would Sign Transgender Bathroom Bill, Sutton Would Veto

Oct 24, 2018

A group protests the 2016 transgender 'bathroom bill' that made it to Governor Daugaard's desk. Daugaard ultimately vetoed the bill.
Credit Chynna Lockett / SDPB

Kristi Noem says if she’s elected governor she’ll sign what’s become known as the Transgender bathroom bill.

Previous attempts to pass legislation that secures restrooms for opposite biological sexes determined at birth—have failed in the statehouse.

Supporters of the so-called transgender bathroom bill during previous legislative sessions say it protects student privacy. Language from those bills determines sex by anatomy.

Republican candidate for South Dakota governor Kristi Noem say’s she’ll work with sponsors of similar legislation, if the issue comes forward.

“We have a unique opportunity to work with legislators to find a situation that will still allow boys to be in boys bathrooms and girls to be in girls bathrooms, and to accommodate other needs,” Noem says. “That’s something people are really wanting, is facilitating a conversation that really provides that kind of flexibility and to address this at a level that’s really helpful. Not just to families and to making sure their needs are addressed and that we have children that are in safe situations. But, also, that we make sure we’re accommodating flexibility at the local level.”

Noem says previous legislation was in response to the Departments of Justice and Education—during the Obama administration—extending title IX protections to transgender students.

That titles banned discrimination in education on the basis of gender, including identity. That was quickly rolled back by the Trump administration.

Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed the bill during the 2016 session, and threatened to veto a similar bill during the 2017 session. He said if there are problems with privacy, those issues should be handled at the local level.

Democratic candidate for governor, Billie Sutton, says his administration would take the same approach.

“I agree with Governor Daugaard on this one,” Sutton says. “That issue is a solution in search of a problem. We haven’t had an issue in our schools, and I would follow the same as Governor Daugaard did.”

The state of North Carolina faced backlash from major companies and organizations, like the NCAA, that threatened to pull out of business deals in the state after that legislature passed a similar bill. The state has since partially repealed the law.