New revisions to transgender discrimination policy at Western Dakota Tech

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Five letters raised the ire of some members of the community Monday at a Rapid City Board of Education meeting.

In the end, the board narrowly approved a new discrimination policy concerning LGBTQ students at Western Dakota Technical Institute (WDT).

The meeting at city hall was so packed that some people couldn’t get in and were forced to stay out in the hall. By a 4-3 vote, the board voted to expand discrimination protections for transgender and gender fluid students at WDT.

Both sides of the public spoke out.

Members from the group South Dakota Parents Involved in Education (SDPIE) said that the policy was a slippery slope and that gay and transgender students should undergo psychological evaluations.

Florence Thompson, the president of SDPIE, said it would be more appropriate to “evaluate each child, give them a complete medical and psychological workup, and see what is the appropriate program for that child and support them in getting their true gender straightened out.”

When asked how to pay for it, Thompson did not have any ideas.

Other community members, including parents, showed up. One mother of three, Natalie Slack, said she was surprised to see the opposition.

“To me, any kind of policy that promotes inclusion and acceptance over judgement and hate is a good policy,” said Slack. “This policy doesn’t have any words asking students to participate in anything they don’t believe in, but it does ask for kindness. As a parent, that’s my number one goal – to make sure my kids are kind.”

Currently, this policy only applies to students at WDT.

Categories: Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News