GLAAD responds to South Dakota's discriminatory law targeting transgender students

Yesterday, South Dakota's state legislature passed a bill that unfairly targets transgender students, forcing them to use separate bathrooms and locker rooms, potentially exposing them to harassment from their peers. According the ACLU of South Dakota, the bill referred to as HB 1008 was passed by the Senate Education Committee last week, despite hearing from transgender students, members of the clergy, and LGBT family members and allies who opposed it. The bill passed the full Senate this Tuesday and will move on to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who could sign it into law.

“As the mother of twins, when I send my kids to school, I expect them to be safe and shielded from ridicule,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This discriminatory bill puts our children in harm’s way, fueling stigma, bullying, and a climate of hate. Gov. Daugaard must fulfill his duty to protect all South Dakotans, especially its young people, by vetoing this mean-spirited and destructive bill.”

Despite claims from the bill's supporter, state Rep. Fred Deutsch, HB 1008 will not protect students. Instead, it would stigmatize transgender students and force many to out themselves by being made to use a separate bathroom. As Rebecca Dodds, the mother of a transgender son in Black Hills, recently told TIME, “For my son, I wouldn’t want him to go to school as a boy and be questioned by other students about why he can’t just go to the bathroom with the other boys. He was afraid to tell me and I’m his mom … It’s really awful to think about your child being the one that they’d say, ‘Okay, everybody, go to the locker room—but not you.'" TIME points out that HB 1008 does not specify what accommodations would be provided to transgender students.

GLAAD urges the media to share the perspectives of transgender South Dakotans on HB 1008, and to hold South Dakota legislators accountable for their biased and inaccurate statements about transgender people. Terri Bruce, a 52-year-old transgender man from Rapid City, recently wrote about the bill, saying of the state's transgender students, "They are worthy of the very best we have to give them. They are also worthy of the same treatment the children around them receive. They deserve to be able to do something as simple as using the bathroom without having to ask permission or be escorted to some kind of makeshift accommodation or to even wait all day until they get home. The children of this state, or any state where similar measures aimed at transgender students are being proposed, do not deserve that."

Tell Gov. Daugaard to veto this bill by signing a petition from the ACLU and retweeting the tweet below.