Proposed Bill Would Void Transgender Policy

In Pierre, South Dakota a bill has been proposed that would void a high school activities association’s policy that allows transgender students the option to request placement on the athletic teams of their choice.

The current association policy was originally adopted in 2014, and revised in November. It aims to be more progressive by allowing transgender students the ability to participate on the sports teams that reflect their gender identities.

The policy requires that a student and their parent notify the school that the student wishes to play on the sports team that matches their gender identity. The school then submits an application and along with documentation to the association for review by an independent hearing officer who must be a licensed attorney and a member of the State Bar of South Dakota.

The bill that would void this policy was approved by the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, and will now move to the House Floor.

If passed, the bill would require the Legislature's consent for any future South Dakota High School Activities Association policy on transgender student athletes.

Dale Bartscher, who lobbies for the conservative group Family Heritage Alliance Action, said there was "quite a firestorm unleashed on the state of South Dakota" after the policy was originally adopted. Some Republican lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to overturn the policy last year, when their efforts stalled in the state Senate.

Opponents of the new legislation believe that it could create more barriers for transgender students.

Terri Bruce, a transgender man who testified against the legislation, said he's concerned with lawmakers' attacks on transgender people to Edweek.

"To be singled out, to have lawmakers of the state target you and to draw attention that you might not want because you're different, these are children. They're children," Bruce said. "I don't understand why they can't be left alone to decide who they are."

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