South Dakota made unfortunate history this week as the first American state to pass a bill forbidding trans students in public schools from using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.
HB 1008, which passed in the state Senate on Tuesday (February 16) now awaits the signature of Governor Dennis Daugaard. If he signs, the bill’s provisions would extend to ”Every restroom, locker room and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.” Trans students who wish to use facilities aligned with their gender identity can request a “reasonable accomodation” from school officials, defined in the bill as “one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district.”
“Every single child, including transgender youth, should have the opportunity to succeed and be treated fairly by our schools and elected officials,” Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, told The Huffington Post. Hayashi added that Daugaard’s signature on the bill would “endanger students and open up South Dakota schools to legal chaos, liability and the loss of millions in federal funds.”
State Democrats brought up that loss of federal money during Tuesday’s debate on HB 1008. Additionally, the The Associated Press reports that 18-year-old South Dakota high school senior Thomas Lewis addressed the state legislature, saying, “The law means that no matter what people might think at school, how they might accept me at school, the state doesn’t.”