The South Dakota state Senate on Monday approved a bill that prevents transgender women from competing in women’s sports at the high school and college level.
Titled “an act to promote continued fairness in women’s sports,” the legislation applies to public schools and any “institution of higher education under the control of the Board of Regents or the South Dakota Board of Technical Education.” Under the new bill, any qualifying school must designate athletic activities as male, female, or coeducational. Any team or sport in the female category will be available only to students who “are female, based on their biological sex.”
The bill mandates that each student who wishes to participate in a school sport submits a statement including their age and “biological sex, as ascertained at or before birth in accordance with the student’s genetics and reproductive biology.” If a school has “reasonable cause” to think that a student’s statement of their biological sex is false, it may “remove the student from, and prohibit further participation in, any sport or on any athletic team for the duration of the school year.”
The legislation also includes provisions to prohibit the investigation of school employees who enforce the bill and gives students a claim for relief if they are harmed by violation of the bill or face retaliation for reporting a possible violation of the bill.
Having passed the South Dakota state House in February, the bill will now go to Governor Kristi Noem for approval. Noem stated that she is “excited to sign this bill very soon” in the pursuit of “defending women’s sports.” Utah, Mississippi and Tennessee state legislatures have advanced similar bills this year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota called the legislation “an attack on transgender women and girls that will cause them serious emotional and physical harm” and said it undermines policies that are already in place to include transgender athletes.