South Dakota Gov Dennis Daugaard National Governors Association

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard

Veto blocks South Dakota law restricting transgender students' use of public school bathrooms

South Dakota would have been the first state to enact a law requiring transgender students in public schools to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth.

Legislation that would have required transgender students in South Dakota public schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth will not become law.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed the House Bill 1008, which would have made the state the first in the nation to enact such a law.

"House Bill 1008 does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota," Daugaard said in his veto message.

The governor says individual school districts should be allowed to determine how to address issues involving facility use and transgender students.

"Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity," Daugaard said.

The veto came after groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign called the legislation discriminatory, organized protests to fight the proposed law and vowed to mount a legal challenge to block it.

In his veto message, the governor pointed out that if the law were enacted, school districts that followed its edicts were likely to end up in court.

"[T]his bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation," he said.

Opponents of the bill praised the governor's action.

"Governor Daugaard chose to do the right thing and veto this outrageous legislation attacking transgender kids," says Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. "Today, the voices of fairness and equality prevailed, and these students' rights and dignity prevailed against overwhelming odds and vicious opponents in the state legislature."

The legislation stated that "every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex."

Schools would have been required to offer transgender students a "reasonable accommodation," but that accommodation would not have allowed transgender students use of "student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex if students of the opposite biological sex are present or could be present."

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