In an encouraging move by the South Dakota State Legislature. Senate Bill 49, known as the bill that attempted to strip the rights of transgender high school athletes by nullifying the trans inclusive policy of the South Dakota High School Athletics Association. Has officially been voted down by the state legislature in a bipartisan vote of 5-2 by the Senate Education Committee. It was officially voted to be “postponed” past the point in which it would be introduced to the Senate, which means it is dead.
When the bill was introduced by conservative republican members Senator Bolin and Representative Brunner it had inspired quite a response, with members of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the Association of School Boards in South Dakota, the South Dakota Education Association, the Sioux Falls School District, the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, school personnel, parents, and the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary testifying against the bill. In addition, organizations such as the ACLU and Human Rights Watch also spoke out, Team USA Trans-Athlete Chris Mosier circulated a petition to discourage the committee members from voting against it.
Fortunately, the message has been heard and SB49 is officially dead. With so much regression of transgender rights, it is encouraging to see that we can still move forward. In the letter written by the Human Rights Watch, they emphasize that by limiting transgender athletes from participating in sports will derive them from the “physical, intellectual and social benefits that students who are not transgender are allowed to derive from extracurricular participation.” As well as remind us that transgender students are “highly vulnerable to bullying, harassment, and assault when they are required to participate in activities and use facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity.”
It is refreshing to see that the lawmakers took the time to listen, educate themselves and understand the importance of these trans inclusive policies. Let’s hope this sets an example for other lawmakers to do the same.
By Dirk Smith