South Dakota lawmakers rejected a bill that would have made it difficult, if not impossible, to teach kids about trans people in the state's public schools.
In a 7-2 vote Friday afternoon, the Senate State Affairs committee deferred action on House Bill 1108 until the 41st Legislative Day, effectively killing it as their legislative sessions are shorter than 41 days.
"After the death of two previous bills targeting transgender people, this bill's death should serve as a third strike for the state legislature," says Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Trans Equality, in a statement. "Throughout this process, it's become clear these bills have nothing to do with safety or concern for children and far more to do with fear based on ignorance."
Introduced in January, House Bill 1108 initially sought to ban teachers from discussing gender identity and expression in public schools, grades kindergarten through seven. It was later revised to prohibit discussion of gender dysphoria, which describes the dissonance between a trans person's gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.
Two weeks ago, the bill passed the South Dakota state House of Representatives with a 39-30 vote, but, as we've seen today, it was unable to replicate that success in the Senate.
"The Senate State Affairs Committee in South Dakota killed a truly insidious bill today," says Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement to Out. "I am thrilled that lawmakers stopped this bill from becoming law, but we are still fighting more like it in South Dakota and elsewhere around the country."
HB1108 is one of four bills targeting trans children that South Dakota state lawmakers have introduced since January. Strangio believes that this rush of anti-trans legislation is connected to the newly elected governor who assumed office Jan. 5. While campaigning for the governorship last fall, Kristi Noem (R), said that she would have signed the so-called "bathroom bill" that her predecessor, Dennis Daugaard (R), vetoed in 2016.
Two of them -- Senate Bill 49, which sought to restrict trans student athletes' participation in sex-segregated sports, and House Bill 1205, which would have given parents the power to deny trans children gender-affirming medical care without penalty from the state -- have died in committee. Only House Bill 1225, which would force trans student athletes to play sex-segregated sports in accordance with the sex listed on their birth certificates, remains.
"These types of proposals expose the goal of most anti-trans legislative proposals: to stop people from being trans," Strangio's statement reads. "Lawmakers were actively mocking trans existence both today and yesterday in hearings over anti-trans measures and have no regard for the devastating consequences these debates bring to our communities."
"Our community is dying and I hope that people join us in celebrating our existence instead of punishing us for trying to live our truths," he adds.