House passes transgender female athletics legislation

Updated at 9:45 a.m. Feb. 26

PIERRE (AP) – The South Dakota House has passed legislation that prohibits transgender girls from participating in female sports at public schools.

The bill's prime sponsor, Republican Rep. Rhonda Milstead, argued that transgender girls have an unfair advantage in female sports. The bill means female sports would only be available to participants who are female based on their biological gender at birth.

Opponents of the bill include the American Civil Liberties Union which said the bill is unconstitutional.

“House Bill 1217 is not about protecting fairness in women’s sports. If it were, then it would tackle the actual threats to women’s sports, such as severe underfunding, lack of media coverage, sexist ideologies that suggest that women and girls are weak, and pay equity for coaches,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager.

Each school year, before students can participate in team sports, they would need to submit statements verifying their age, biological sex and that they haven’t taken any steroids in the 12 months preceding competition, the Argus Leader reported. The statement must be signed by a parent if they are under 18.

The bill passed the House Wednesday on a 50-17 vote and was sent to a Senate committee.

LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit organizations, partner organizations and allies, including Brookings Pride, will take their opposition to House Bill 1217 to the streets in cities across South Dakota on Saturday morning.

Marches are being planned in seven South Dakota communities, including Brookings. The local protest is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at Hillcrest Park, near the intersection of Sixth Street and 17th Avenue, according to a press release from the organizations.


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