First in U.S.: South Dakota Senate OKs bill banning transgenders from using restrooms of their gender identity


The South Dakota Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit transgender students from using restrooms of their gender identity.

In a 20-15 vote, the Senate approved the Student Physical Privacy Act to require public-school students to use facilities that match their biological sex, according to the Washington Times. Transgenders, however, may seek "reasonable accommodation" including unisex, one-stall bathrooms.

House Bill 1008 will be sent to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who has not publicly expressed his position on the bill. The governor may sign the bill, veto it or it may become a law automatically if he doesn't act on it.

If it becomes a law, South Dakota will become the first U.S. state to have the anti-transgender act.

"This issue has been thrust upon us by an activist group of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," said Republican Senator Brock Greenfield, according to BuzzFeed.

He said this is in response to the Obama administration's push for transgender rights in public schools. "It's only been a product of recent decisions made at the federal level," Greenfield said.

"Do you feel it appropriate for a 13-year-old girl to be exposed to the anatomy of a boy?" the lawmaker asked.

Democrats who opposed the bill said it could result in further discrimination and prompt the federal government to withdraw funding for the state's public schools.

Sen. Bernie Hunhoff said no incident of transgender students using school restrooms has been recorded so far.

"We could have egg on our face with a tourism boycott," Hunhoff said.

Under the bill, "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."

Biological sex, according to the bill, is "the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person's chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth."

Conservatives have been campaigning to ban men in women's bathrooms.

The U.S. Justice and Education Departments under the Obama Administration said that Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 that bans sex discrimination in public schools also meant a ban on transgender discrimination.

In the case of South Dakota, the "reasonable accommodation" clause has a condition that the school district should not be burdened when a transgender student makes such requests.

"There is no state that bans transgender students from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign.