South Dakota's Gov. Daugaard vetoes anti-transgender bill

Today, Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota vetoed HB 1008, a harmful bill that would have banned transgender students from using the bathrooms or locker rooms that align with their gender identity. Gov. Daugaard said in a statement, "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." 

The bill passed the state legislature in February and was sent to the governor for his consideration. After having said he was unaware of ever having met a transgender person, Gov. Daugaard recently met with three transgender people, two of whom were students. He said of the meeting, "It helped me see things through their eyes a little better and see more of their perspective."

"We applaud Governor Daugaard for his leadership in protecting all of South Dakota's young people," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD. "By vetoing this bill, the governor has sent a clear message that discrimination is not a South Dakotan value."

"We applaud Governor Daugaard for making an informed decision and protecting all South Dakota students from harm and discrimination. His thoughtful approach - sitting down and talking with transgender people - attests that hearts and minds can change, and we hope legislators across the country will follow his example," said Nick Adams, Director of Programs for Transgender Media.

The ACLU launched a petition against HB 1008 that garnered more than 40,000 signatures, and was shared by Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and other equality advocates. Bills like HB 1008 have been introduced across the country, with 23 of the 44 anti-transgender bills filed this year aimed at transgender youth, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign. Despite this important victory for South Dakota students, transgender people in South Dakota, and 27 other states, are not protected from discrimination work, school, and in public places. GLAAD has created a guide for journalists covering stories related to nondiscrimination laws and ordinances that include transgender people.