“Bathroom bill” defeated in Senate Judiciary Committee

The bill, which would have prevented transgender students from utilizing the bathroom of the gender they identified with in public schools, was defeated resoundingly in a Senate committee Tuesday.
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:38 PM MST
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PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota State Senate’s Judiciary Committee voted 6 to 1 to kill HB 1005, a bill that would “provide for the designated use of public school multi-occupancy rooms and sleeping rooms.”

The bill, also referred to as the “bathroom bill,” was sponsored by State Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) and State Sen. Marsha Symonds (R-Dell Rapids).

Supporters of the bill argued that it was intended to protect students privacy, and from any possible sexual abuse that could arise from the current policy.

The bill was the latest in a string of several measures over the last several legislative sessions attempting to regulate whether or not transgender individuals can utilize the restroom of the gender they identify with.

The motion to send the bill to the 41st day, effectively killing it, was made by State Sen. Michael Rohl (R-Aberdeen) and seconded by Sen. David Wheeler (R-Huron).

A number of the individuals who testified both for and against the bill were from Vermillion, where the local school district updated their policy last year to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender they identified with.

“We are not a school board,” Wheeler said. “It is almost as if the Vermillion School Board’s district decision is being relitigated here... It is better to handle these issues at the local level,” said State Sen. David Wheeler (R-Huron).

Though the bill was defeated in committee, it could still be brought by way of a “smoke out” on the Senate floor. That would require a 12 senators to agree to the smoke out, and then 18 to agree to put the bill on the Senate’s calendar.

“Transgender people, whether people know it or not, are already using the bathrooms and communal facilities they have a right to, and doing so without incident,” ACLU of South Dakota Advocacy Manager Jett Jonelis said. “It doesn’t infringe on anyone rights to share spaces with those who are different. Today members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a strong message that all students, no matter their gender identity, should be treated with dignity and respect in South Dakota schools.”

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