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South Dakota Gov. vetoes dangerous bill attacking transgender children
2016-03-01

This article shared 3016 times since Tue Mar 1, 2016
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On March 1, Republican South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed HB 1008, a bill that would have restricted transgender students' use of restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities in public schools.

LGBT groups, businesses and child-advocacy organizations as well as celebrities such as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner had all called on Daugaard to veto the bill.

"If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them," Daugaard wrote in a letter to lawmakers, according to The New York Times. "Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state."

Pro-LGBT organizations lauded the development.

"Governor Daugaard made a symbolic statement that South Dakota's transgender students are a valued part of the community and that our state leaders won't be swayed by out-of-state groups that don't have the interests of South Dakotans at heart," said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, in a statement. "People from across the state and country took time to reach out to the governor to urge this veto—that's the true testament of democracy."

Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said in a separate release, "Governor Daugaard made the right call in vetoing this dangerous legislation, sparing South Dakota the risky and costly experiment of becoming the first state to mandate discrimination against transgender youth in violation of federal law and student privacy and well-being."

GLSEN Director of Public Policy Nathan Smith stated, "GLSEN is relieved that the dangerous actions of the South Dakota legislature in passing HB 1008 have been halted by Gov. Daugaard's veto. We applaud Gov. Daugaard for his leadership in protecting all of South Dakota's students and not placing unnecessary legal burdens on the state's school districts."

It would have been the first law of its kind in the United States. Several other states are considering similar measures.

The New York Times piece is at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/us/governor-vetoes-transgender-bathroom-restrictions-south-dakota.html?_r=0.

Press releases:

From HRC

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to the decision by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto HB 1008 — outrageous legislation attacking the rights of transgender children in public schools by attempting to force them to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

"Governor Daugaard chose to do the right thing and veto this outrageous legislation attacking transgender kids. Today, the voices of fairness and equality prevailed, and these students' rights and dignity prevailed against overwhelming odds and vicious opponents in the state legislature," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Unfortunately, another anti-LGBT bill is still pending in the South Dakota Legislature — and we must keep up the fight to ensure today's veto holds and this other odious bill never makes it to Governor Daugaard's desk."

HRC mobilized its members across South Dakota and the nation to fight back against HB 1008. HRC has also worked closely with local advocates, including the ACLU of South Dakota and the National Center for Transgender Equality ( NCTE ), to try to stop this outrageous bill from becoming law. HRC provided on the ground support, mobilized members and supporters for a community day of action, conducted patch through calls to the governor's office, and urged fair-minded South Dakotans to speak out against the bill through several action alerts and a robust social media campaign. HRC's action, along with ACLU of South Dakota and other coalition partners, helped deliver over 80,000 signatures urging the governor to do the right thing and veto HB 1008.

HRC encouraged the American School Counselor Association ( ASCA ) to speak out, and the ASCA pleaded with the Senate to abandon the bill. As Governor Daugaard contemplated his decision, HRC also worked with seven national child welfare, medical, and education groups — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association — to release an open letter to all of the nation's governors expressing their grave concerns and objections to this type of legislation.

The profoundly negative impact this dangerous bill would have had on lives of young people and their families would have been completely unacceptable, and the governor's veto stopped this outrageous attack dead in its tracks. But we have more work to do: other discriminatory bills are still up for consideration in the Mount Rushmore State, and we urge lawmakers to prevent these attacks on fairness and equality from moving any further."

Before making his decision, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said meeting with transgender South Dakotans "put a human face" on the impact the legislation would have had and helped him to see things "through their eyes."

HRC is working with the ACLU of South Dakota to keep another extreme bill, HB 1112, from passing. Two other discriminatory proposals in the state, HB 1209 and HB 1107, have been tabled.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

__________

From NCTE

Washington, D.C. — The National Center for Transgender Equality thanks South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his veto of HB 1008, which would have completely disrupted the school lives of hundreds of transgender students. By taking this action, Gov. Daugaard has shown that discrimination against transgender people is not a South Dakota value.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, who was on the ground in South Dakota last week, said, "Gov. Daugaard has demonstrated true leadership in listening to the hundreds of transgender South Dakotans and their families who would have been directly impacted by this bill. He has made a carefully informed decision that protects all students in South Dakota. His example shows that scare tactics can be overcome by understanding who trans people really are."

While today's news is a major victory for fairness, there is still much more work to be done to combat the pervasive attacks on transgender people in South Dakota and around the country. What happened in South Dakota today is a huge step on the way to ensuring that all transgender people can live full lives, safely and without fear of discrimination.

NCTE thanks the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, the Center for Equality in Sioux Falls, and Equality South Dakota, as well as the national ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign, for all of their hard work combating this bill.

__________

From ACLU

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard this afternoon vetoed the nation's first discriminatory anti-transgender bathroom bill to pass a state legislature.

The measure became the subject of national scrutiny for proposing to single out South Dakota transgender students by forcing them to choose between isolated accommodations and those that do not match their gender identity.

"Today Governor Daugaard made a symbolic statement that South Dakota's transgender students are a valued part of the community and that our state leaders won't be swayed by out-of-state groups that don't have the interests of South Dakotans at heart," said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota. "People from across the state and country took time to reach out to the governor to urge this veto — that's the true testament of democracy. There was no place for discrimination in South Dakota when this bill was initially proposed by a handful of legislators, and today the governor confirmed unequivocally that discrimination has no place in our future. Thank you governor, for listening to the collective voices of South Dakotans and voting your values."

The veto protects the health and safety of transgender South Dakota students and ensures that state law complies with federal law prohibiting discrimination in schools on the basis of sex. The veto comes as 16 other states are considering similar discriminatory measures that expose transgender students to unequal treatment.

"Governor Daugaard's decision will place him unequivocally on the right side of history," said Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. "Federal law is clear that transgender students are protected under Title IX and the governor's veto prevents costly investigations into school districts across South Dakota. Hopefully this important action by Governor Daugaard will allow the state and other states across the country to continue to invest in the safety of all students instead of singling out a vulnerable few for isolation and discrimination."

Transgender student Thomas Lewis rallied against the bill by starting a petition that garnered more than 83,000 signatures and organizing a delivery to the state capitol. Gov. Daurgaard invited Thomas and a group of other transgender students for a meeting to discuss their concerns about the harms of the bill, HB 1008. He celebrates today's victory.

"In my meeting with Governor Daugaard, I could tell that he was genuinely interested and concerned with my story, and I believe this openness helped him make this decision to veto HB 1008," said Thomas. "The governor made it clear today that transgender people like me are worthy of respect and kindness. I join thousands of people across the state in thanking Governor Daugaard for standing up for all South Dakotans."

__________

From NCLR

(San Francisco, CA, March 1, 2016)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights applauds South Dakota Governor Dennis Dauggard for vetoing House Bill 1008, which would have required South Dakota public schools to invade the privacy of all students and deny transgender students the ability to be treated the same as other students.

Statement by NCLR Transgender Youth Project Attorney Asaf Orr, Esq.:

"We salute Governor Daugaard for meeting with students and listening to the concerns of legal experts and medical professionals about the serious harms caused by denying students equal access to all school programs and activities. School policies should be based on evidence, not irrational stereotypes and fears, and should support the health and well-being of all students."

Individuals and organizations that sent letters to Governor Daugaard urging him to veto HB 1008 include:

-South Dakota Association of School Psychologists

-National Association of School Psychologists

-American Psychiatric Association

-Pediatric Endocrine Society

-Dr. William Byne, Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine

-World Professional Association for Transgender Health

__________

From Lambda Legal

"Governor Daugaard did the right thing today. He did not allow hate and fear-mongering to dictate state policy, instead he chose to act reasonably and with compassion and demonstrated that equality is a South Dakota value."

(Pierre, South Dakota, March 1, 2016)—Today, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed House Bill 1008, a discriminatory bill that would have prevented transgender students from accessing restrooms and single-sex facilities that correspond to their gender identity. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kyle Palazzolo issued the following statement:

"Governor Daugaard did the right thing today. He did not allow hate and fear-mongering to dictate state policy, instead he chose to act reasonably and with compassion and demonstrated that equality is a South Dakota value. House Bill 1008 would have served no other purpose than to target transgender young people and worsen the isolation and harassment that many of them already experience.

"We, our sister organizations and advocates all over the country have been watching the state closely and are relieved that Governor Daugaard vetoed this harmful bill. The South Dakota Legislature now needs to stop House Bill 1112, which would exclude all transgender young people from participating in high school sports and activities by tying participation to the sex listed on a young person's birth certificate, rather than their gender identity. Like House Bill 1008, 1112 singles out transgender young people for discrimination rather than embracing them at a time that they need our support the most.

"While we applaud the Governor's action today, we know that work remains not only in defeating other hateful, discriminatory laws targeting LGBT people throughout the country, but also in expanding nondiscrimination protections for all members of our community.

"We are so proud of all of the people in South Dakota that made this possible: the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, the Center for Equality in Sioux Falls, and Equality South, but especially of all the young people who spoke with and shared their experiences with the Governor. Your bravery made this victory possible. Thank you all for all of your hard work and commitment to protecting every member of our community."

__________

From GLSEN

EW YORK (March 1, 2016) — GLSEN's Director of Public Policy, Nathan Smith, today applauded South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for preventing a discriminatory bill from becoming law by vetoing HB 1008. The bill would have required transgender and gender nonconforming students to use the restroom and locker rooms that correspond with their gender assigned at birth, even if that conflicts with their gender identity. The bill would have also restricted the ability of schools to work with students to devise solutions that best serve them.

"GLSEN is relieved that the dangerous actions of the South Dakota legislature in passing HB 1008 have been halted by Gov. Daugaard's veto. We applaud Gov. Daugaard for his leadership in protecting all of South Dakota's students and not placing unnecessary legal burdens on the state's school districts.

"We hope this sends a message and serves as an example to other state and local policymakers that all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, should have access to safe and affirming schools. GLSEN calls on all policymakers to best serve their students and educators by supporting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination and anti-bullying and harassment laws. GLSEN is ready to work with policymakers, school administrators, educators and students to help create school climates where all students can thrive."

The latest edition of GLSEN's National School Climate Survey found that transgender students were more likely to avoid gender-segregated spaces at schools, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students who experienced discrimination and bullying and harassment at school were more than three times as likely to have missed school in the past month as those who did not, had lower GPAs than their peers, and had lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression. GLSEN has created model laws and policies for schools, districts and states to ensure LGBT students are safe and affirmed at school, including a model district policy for accommodating transgender and gender nonconforming students that complies with Title IX.

__________

From PFLAG National

PFLAG National Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm has just released the following statement regarding South Dakota Governor Daugaard's veto of HB 1008:

"PFLAG National and our 200,000 nationwide members and supporters thank S. Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for vetoing a bill which would have been the first piece of legislation in our country that directly targets transgender students. It is clear that meeting with families and their trans kids opened the governor's eyes, heart, and mind. However, more than a dozen pieces of similar legislation in other states are sending a clear and devastating message to transgender children and their families: that they should—and will—be treated differently. PFLAG calls for our members, supporters, and all fair-minded Americans to join us in holding legislators and leaders accountable and responsible when their actions do not uphold the American ideals of equality, opportunity, and fairness."

__________

Daugaard's full veto message

March 1, 2016

The Honorable Dean Wink

Speaker of the House of Representatives

500 East Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives,

I respectfully return to you House Bill 1008, with my VETO.

House Bill 1008 does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota. As policymakers in South Dakota, we often recite that the best government is the government closest to the people. Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity.

This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on "every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school." It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.

If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them. Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.

Preserving local control is particularly important because this bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation. Although there have been promises by an outside entity to provide legal defense to a school district, this provision is not memorialized in the bill. Nor would such defense eliminate the need for school or state legal counsel, nor avoid expenses relating to expert witnesses, depositions and travel, or other defense costs. Nor does the commitment extend to coverage over settlement or damage expenses. This law will create a certain liability for school districts and the state in an area where no such liability exists today.

For these reasons, I oppose this bill and ask that you sustain my veto.

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Daugaard


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