South Dakota House to vote on high school transgender athlete bill
PIERRE S.D. – This week, South Dakota lawmakers will vote on a bill requiring high school students to play on sports teams which match their biological sex.
House Bill 1225 will now head to the full House of Representatives for consideration after a committee last week was deadlocked. The 6-6 vote means that the full House will vote on the bill.
Supporters of HB 1225 say transgender students should play on teams matching their biological sex. They claim students could have an unfair advantage in sports. According to Senator Jim Bolin, the assistant majority leader, the bill is modeled after policies from Texas.
“House Bill 1225 is essentially just going to bring the policy of Texas to the state of South Dakota,” Bolin said. “It’s not breaking any ground, and it’s designed to bring fair competition to high school athletics.”
But opponents claim the bill is discriminatory, and unnecessarily singles out transgender students in school. The South Dakota High School Athletic Association’s Leadership says the bill would only apply to a handful of students, and that there’s never been a single complaint from students, teachers or parents.
Last month, a senate panel voted down a similar bill. Democratic leadership says reviving bills which have already been voted down abuses the legislative process.
“It’s almost like Groundhog Day, we have the same bills hog housed and put into other bills for no reason than taking another bite at the apple,” said Democratic Minority Leader Troy Heinert, “And that’s really abusing our system.”
The High School Athletic Association’s current policy allows transgender students to participate on sports teams that reflect their gender identity rather than the sex listed on their birth certificate. If HB 1225 is passed, the new law would override the athletic association’s policy.
(Democratic and Republican press conference footage courtesy of Patrick Callahan)