Will South Dakota legislators bring back transgender bathroom bill?

Published: Nov. 19, 2018 at 10:27 AM MST
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Over the last few years, South Dakota lawmakers have tried to pass controversial policies that would restrict the bathrooms that transgender students are allowed to use.

Now that South Dakota has a new Governor, some are debating whether or not to give these policies another go during the next legislative session.

Back in 2016, Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill that would've required transgender students in the state's public schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their sex at birth.

Two years later, lawmakers tabled a house bill that would have required schools to write and publicly report their individual policies on transgender students' access to restrooms.

Timothy Goodwin was one of nine legislators who introduced the latter bill, and he says he's unsure of whether they'll bring back the bill.

Timothy R. Goodwin, Republican Representative, District 30, says, "I'd like to look at it again. I'm just concerned that all sides are taken care of on it, and we'd also like the transgender community in on it, too, and have their input. We should look at everybody's point of view."

The South Dakota High School Activities Association allows transgender students to participate on teams according to their identified gender, which is where Goodwin says the proposed policy stemmed from.

Timothy R. Goodwin says, "It was just an issue for being safe for everybody. It wasn't looking at one side or the other. I remember debating on it saying maybe we could use the teacher's lounge, too. We just want to make sure that nobody's bullied. Nobody's harassed. Nobody's beat up or anything like that."

Jen Heuerman came out as a transgender woman a year and a half ago.

She has a transgender son, and Jen says his school asked him to use the women's staff bathroom shortly after he came out as trans.

Jen Heuerman says, "It really made him feel uncomfortable, not even being able to use the students' bathroom, much less of the right gender. It was really hard for him and it's a big reason why he dropped out."

Heuerman said she would like to see some changes made to the bill if it's brought to the next legislative session.

Jen Heuerman says, "If they were written with inclusive language, if they were made to try and help the transgender people rather than exclude them, then it might be worth looking at, but as they are, they're really just kind of discriminatory."

Goodwin says lawmakers will go to Pierre in December to listen to Governor Dauggard's budget address.

From there they'll meet with leadership about any proposed bills concerning the matter.