Monday, the South Dakota state Senate passed a bill that restricts transgender women athletes from competing on high school and college girls’ and women’s teams. The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem who has said she is excited to sign the bill into law.
“This is a very simple bill. It’s a bill to protect women’s sports,” says Republican State Sen. Maggie Sutton, one of the primary sponsors of the legislation. “It’s not against transgenders,” Sutton says.
“To me, it looks an awful lot like bullying,” says Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba, who voted against the bill.
Janna Farley is the spokesperson for the ACLU of South Dakota. She says it is disheartening that legislators are spending their time on bills like this. “We don’t need to have discrimination like this codified into law.”
The legislation requires that schools and athletic associations collect written waivers documenting every student athlete’s “reproductive biology.” There are roughly 40,000 students who compete in sports in the state and critics say the bill violates Title 7 and Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating based on sex.
Republican State Sen. Lee Schoenbeck voted against the bill saying it would create a mountain of new paperwork, adding that no Republican runs for office trying to grow government oversight.
South Dakota is one of more than 20 states this year that has considered legislative measures along these lines, including Mississippi where lawmakers have already passed an identical bill banning transgender women from participating in girls’ and womens’ sports teams.