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Noem sends lawmakers revised transgender sports bill

(NBC Nebraska Scottsbluff)
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 3:31 PM MDT|Updated: Mar. 19, 2021 at 3:49 PM MDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - Gov. Kristi Noem has sent a bill, which the ACLU of South Dakota has called anti-transgender, back to the legislature with suggested revisions.

House Bill 1217 would prohibit transgender girls and women from competing on athletic teams that match their gender identities. The measure would have applied to all K-12 and collegiate athletic events held in South Dakota. Noem initially signaled her intent to sign the bill when it passed the House.

The governor and supporters of the legislation say it proposed to protect women in sports. Opponents say the bill attempts to “solve a problem that doesn’t exist” and say it violates the U.S. Constitution.

In a release Friday, Noem claims the legislation’s “vague and overly broad language” could have significant unintended consequences and cause an unnecessary burden on schools.

In Section 2, HB1217 ensures students haven’t taken “any performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids.” Noem says this opens up the possibility of a lawsuit.

“If a male student-athlete failed to make the football team and later learned that another student on the team was taking steroids without disclosing it, the student who didn’t make the team would be entitled to sue both the school and the steroid-using student for damages,” Noem writes.

Noem’s recommendations would clarify that such an issue would apply to “an accredited elementary or secondary school,” not public schools. This would mean the only agency governing the law is the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

“Overall, these style and form clarifications protect women sports while also showing empathy for youths struggling with what they understand to be their gender identity,” Noem said. “But showing empathy does not mean a biologically-female-at birth woman should face an unbalanced playing field that effectively undermines the advances made by women and for women since the implementation of Title IX in 1972.”

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