Vetoed: SD governor won't sign transgender bathroom bill


South Dakota's governor has vetoed a bill that would have restricted bathroom use for transgender students.

The South Dakota House and Senate had passed H.B. 1008, a bill barring transgender students from using bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities of the gender with which they identify.

And on Tuesday, Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed the bill, writing to lawmakers: "[the bill] does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota."

He said the bill removes the school district's ability to determine the appropriate accommodations for its students and "replaces that flexibility with a state mandate."

“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 wrote.

He emphasized that local school districts are in the best place to address these situations, and if they were forced to follow the state law, it would "openly [invite] federal litigation."

If Daugaard had signed the bill into law, South Dakota would have become the first state to require transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their biological sex.

Proponents of the bill said it protects student's privacy, and the Republican governor had initially responded positively to the proposal, the Rapid City Journal reports. But he rejected it after the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign called it discriminatory against vulnerable students.

Gov. Daugaard met with transgender students last week, before he made his decision.

Daugaard announced his veto hours before the deadline to make a decision, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reports.

The state Legislature could still override the governor's veto with two-thirds support, but Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill's primary sponsor, says he would not be asking his colleagues to do so, the Argus Leader says.

Similar attempt in Minnesota failed

Transgender school policies have been a hot-button issue in Minnesota in recent years.

Transgender students in Minnesota are allowed to use the locker rooms and bathrooms, and play for the sports teams of the gender with which they identify, after the Minnesota State High School League approved a policy in 2014.

An attempt was made by Republican lawmakers last March to roll back the policy with a similar bill to the one approved in South Dakota, separating Minnesota high school locker rooms and bathrooms along birth gender lines. But the proposed bill was defeated in the Senate.

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