The South Dakota House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prohibit teachers from providing any information about gender identity in elementary and junior high schools in state public schools. The intent of the meanspirited bill, known as HB 1108, is to prevent public school teachers from being able to teach students about trans people, or even acknowledging that trans people exist in the classroom.
The full text of the proposed law reads, “No instruction in gender identity or gender expression may be provided to any student in kindergarten through grade seven in any public school in the state.”
The bill passed the House by a vote of 39-30 in the 70 seat chamber. The South Dakota House of Representatives is majority Republican and this is only one of many anti-transgender bills the state legislature is considering this year.
“The intent of this legislation is clearly to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans,” said Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. “If HB 1108 were to become law, it would send a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they are less than their peers. South Dakota was the first state to introduce anti-transgender legislation that would bar trans kids from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and it seems intent on being on the forefront of discrimination yet again, at the risk being out of step with the rest of the country. We implore the Senate to vote against this harmful legislation.”
Chase Strangio with the ACLU believes the bills could have a negative impact on South Dakota students. “South Dakota appears to want to distinguish itself as the state most committed to harming trans youth,” he said in a statement. “Trans people already experience incredibly high rates of violence and self-harm due to familial rejection and systemic discrimination. There’s no question that bills like these just compound existing harm and trauma and lead to devastating health outcomes.”