Two bills related to the South Dakota High School Activities Association adoption of a transgender student participation policy were voted down by the Senate Education committee.
Committee members voted 4-3 to defer House Bill 1195, which declared the transgender policy adopted by the SDHSAA void, to the 41st day. House Bill 1161, which limited the rule making authority of SDHSAA as in adopting policies related to sexuality or gender identity, was deferred on a 5-2 vote.
Each bill had previously passed the House.
Proponents of the bills argued SDHSAA had overstepped its bounds in the adoption of the policy, which some said promoted a direct contradiction of a student’s birth certificate.
“The (SDHSAA) didn’t need to step into this quagmire,” Rep. Steven Haugaard, prime sponsor of HB 1161, said.
Lindsey Riter-Rapp, legal counsel for the SDHSAA, told committee members the Activities Association took up the policy discussion in a proactive response to issues occurring in other states and thoroughly vetted the policy before adopting.
“The policy was not adopted overnight, but rather over a 12-month period,” Riter-Rapp said, adding the Activities Association help public hearings to discuss the policy and did not receive opposition to it.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said school boards were concerned either bill could put school boards in a precarious spot.
“It’s a sensitive issue. This issue will always fall back on the school boards,” Pogany said. “We need to make sure we don’t set school boards up for failure.”
Pogany added ASBSD has been in the process of drawing up sample school board policy that boards could choose to adopt to help guide them in the process of accommodating a transgender student.