South Dakota kills cruel, bigoted bid to ban trans students from using the correct bathroom

A person wearing a rainbow coloured face mask holds up a transgender Pride flag above their head

South Dakota lawmakers have killed a bill that would have banned trans students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

House Bill 1005 (HB 1005) passed in the House State Affairs committee in January on a 7-5 vote, and it was quickly pushed through the House in a 38-29 vote earlier this month.

But on Tuesday (8 February), nearly all seven members of the Senate Judiciary committee, who are all Republicans, voted to reject the cruel bill.

Senator Michael Rohl motioned to move the bill to the 41st legislative day, an act that sends a bill to the day after the last day of the legislative session for discussion and kills the proposed legislation.

The motion was seconded by senator David Wheeler and garnered a 6-1 vote in favour of killing the bill, the Argus Leader reported.

Only one committee member, senator Jim Stalzer, recommended the bill pass and be sent to the Senate floor. But no one voted with him, and it ultimately died.

However, Rohl argued that determining how trans students can access school facilities was a policy that should be decided upon by school boards, the Associated Press reported.

“I ran for the South Dakota Senate, not a school board,” Rohl said.

The ACLU of South Dakota welcomed the death of the reviled bill in a statement posted on Twitter.

The organisation said that trans people have long been using the “bathrooms and commercial facilities they have a right to and doing so without incident”. As such, the ACLU of South Dakota said it doesn’t “infringe” on anyone’s rights to “share spaces with those who are different”.

But “by singling out transgender youth”, the organisation said HB 1005 “would have violated federal and constitutional law”.

“Today members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a strong message that all students — no matter their gender identity — should be treated with dignity and respect in South Dakota schools,” the group wrote.

In 2016, then-South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill that would have prevented transgender students from accessing bathrooms, locker rooms and other school facilities that match their gender identity.

The Republican governor said that he did not sign the anti-trans measure because it did not “address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota”.

According to the Argus Leader, there have been several similar bathroom bills that have been filed in the past few years, including SB 115 in 2017, and HB 1296 and SB 202 in 2018.