Civil Rights

Transgender bathroom bill vetoed by South Dakota governor

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South Dakota’s governor has vetoed a controversial transgender bathroom bill.

On Tuesday, the state’s Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard rejected the proposed bill, which would force transgender public school students to use the school restroom that corresponds to their gender at birth. According to CNN, Daugaard stated that the bill “does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota.”

“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,” Daugaard said in a statement. Daugaard also criticized the bill for imposing sweeping statewide rules that remove “the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students.”

The bill overwhelmingly passed the Republican-led state House of Representatives in January in a 58-10 vote. In mid-February, the bill passed the Senate by a 20-15 vote before heading to Daugaard’s desk. Daugaard issued his veto hours before the bill was set to become law.

Daugaard’s veto was met with acclaim from transgender rights activists. “Gov. 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,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center.

State Rep. Fred Deutsch said the issue had become a distraction and encouraged his fellow lawmakers to accept the veto. “Further focus on this issue will detract from the other significant accomplishments of the Legislature this session,” said Deutsch, who is a Republican.

According to CNN, there are similar bills pending in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. None of them, however, have come as close to passage as South Dakota’s bill.

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