South Dakota just passed a bill restricting bathroom access for transgender students


South Dakota’s legislature passed a bill on Tuesday to ban transgender students from using bathrooms of the sex they identify with.

It’s the first of its kind in the nation, CNN reports, and could leave schools across the state open to lawsuits from transgender students and civil rights groups, who could argue the law is in violation of Title IX regulations protecting students against sex-based discrimination.

State Rep. Fred Deutsch, a supporter of the ban, called it a “bill to require student privacy in public school restrooms” in a blog post, adding  that “biological boys and girls would be required to shower separately, use separate locker rooms and separate restrooms in South Dakota public schools or public school events.” Deutsch said the Title IX protections were part of the federal government overstepping its bounds, according to the Argus Leader.

Both houses of the state parliament passed the bill, and it now goes to South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for final approval. Daugaard has said that he doesn’t think he has ever met a transgender person and does not plan to before deciding on whether to sign the bill.

Civil groups including the ACLU South Dakota have warned that the law is based on a lack of understanding and unfairly targets trans students.

“As a result of these bills, transgender individuals are scared, not only for their own safety and protection, but scared of our own legislature,” the Center for Equality wrote in a letter to Daugaard. “During a press conference on Thursday, you shared that you have not met a transgender person that you are aware of. There have likely been several times where you have met a transgender person and didn’t know it. There is too much at stake to not have an understanding of what it means to be transgender and how these bills will affect their daily lives.”

If the bill becomes law, trans students in South Dakota would have to use segregated single-occupancy bathrooms or be forced to use the bathroom for the sex they were assigned at birth.

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