ACLU Comment on Gov. Noem’s Response to Anti-Trans Bill

Organization says the governor’s changes do not address unlawful discrimination and leave South Dakota open to litigation and economic fallout

March 19, 2021 5:30 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of South Dakota
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem sent a bill banning transgender students from participating in school sports teams back to the South Dakota legislature today with proposed changes. The American Civil Liberties Union says Gov. Noem’s changes to House Bill 1217 continue to discriminate against transgender youth and will leave the state vulnerable to costly litigation.

“House Bill 1217 was never about protecting fairness in women’s sports. It was about discrimination and the erasure of trans girls, pure and simple,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Gov. Noem’s decision not to issue a full veto of this anti-transgender bill into law is disappointing. We are relieved, however, that the organizing by trans youth and pressure from business leaders, educators, and parents has given us the chance to fight to block this bill from passing. Codifying discrimination like this does nothing but hurt some of the most vulnerable people in our state. South Dakota should be better than this. The South Dakota legislature should take this moment to altogether abandon this bill that will hurt trans youth, all girls and women who want to play school sports, and South Dakota’s economy.”

Legislation similar to HB 1217 has been filed across the country in recent years and has been challenged in court. In Aug 2020, a federal judge blocked Idaho’s law targeting transgender student athletes, recognizing that “it is not just the constitutional rights of transgender girls and women athletes at issue but … the constitutional rights of every girl and woman athlete in Idaho” and concluded that the law was based on nothing more than discrimination against transgender people.

The ACLU of South Dakota is currently weighing all options to ensure the constitutional rights of transgender women and girls in South Dakota are upheld.

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.