South Dakota governor vetoes transphobic 'bathroom bill'

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South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has broken with his own party to stop a bill that would discriminate against transgender students in the state.

House Bill 1008 prevented students from using a restroom or locker room at a public school except for ones that corresponded to "the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person's chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth." It passed both the Republican-controlled state Senate and House in February.

In a signing statement released to The Argus Leader, Gov. Daugaard said that this wasn't a statewide issue that required the Legislature's action.


"If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address the,." Daugaard wrote. "Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state."

Daugaard also warned that the bill opens South Dakota schools up to being the target of federal litigation.

The governor had shown signs he was less than enthused by the bill, which gained nationwide notice following comments by the bill's supporters claiming that transgender people were "damaged" and "twisted." After saying he didn't actually know any transgender people, he met with a group of transgender South Dakotans last week to get their input.

The bill appears to be completely dead for now, as state Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill's sponsor, has said he will not pursue an override of the governor's decision. There is still another bill in the state Legislature that targets transgender students. House Bill 1112 would revoke the state high school athletic association's transgender policy and prevent it from instituting a new one. The bill passed the state House and is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow.


Daugaard's veto isn't exactly overflowing with LGBT tolerance, as he seems more concerned in his statement with preserving local control and preventing lawsuits than protecting vulnerable transgender students. But hopefully it sets a precedent as other states and municipalities consider similar actions.