House panel passes bill prohibiting instruction on gender dysphoria
PIERRE, S.D. — The House Education Committee voted 9-6 to pass a bill that originally was designed to ban instruction on gender identity and expression through seventh grade at any public school in the state.
During the panel hearing, lawmakers chose to amend HB 1108 so that it banned instruction on “gender dysphoria,” instead of gender identity and expression.
The proponents of the bill argued that confusion over gender identity, homosexuality and being transgender is a psychological illness.
According to Florence Thompson, a former school psychologist and conservative activist, “The transgender, homosexual lifestyle is neither healthy, nor normal.”
Rep. Tom Pischke, HB 1108’s primary sponsor, went on to argue that instruction on the issue in schools could make gender dysphoria more prevalent: “The legislative intent of this bill is to ensure that South Dakota public schools are not teaching and confusing our young children to be more susceptible to dysphoria.”
Opponents of the bill argued that decisions on what’s taught in schools should not be decided by lawmakers, but rather the state Board of Education.
“If the proponents of the bill want this information taught, or not taught, they can go to the Board of Education […] This is not the place to decide that,” said Mitch Richter, a member of the South Dakota United School Association.
They also argued that the bill expresses a lack of trust in educators and parents, and their ability to address concerns appropriately on their own.
Others pointed out that gender instruction isn’t taught in South Dakota’s public schools, and that South Dakota’ s education system has significant problems that lawmakers should be working on addressing instead.
According to one of the opponents, Dianna Miller, “I think you’re looking at a bill which is completely unnecessary. […] We are not grooming students to anything. We are simply allowing questions to be answered. […] I respectfully ask that you defeat House Bill 1108, and we move on to the real issues in public education and education across this state.”
The panel eventually passed the amended bill. It will now go on to the house floor for a vote.