Girls’ sports participation bill passes committee

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Girls’ sports participation bill passes committee

A legislative committee advanced a bill banning the participation of anyone other than biological females in girls’ sports at the end of the first week of the 2022 legislative session.


Senate Bill 46, which changes process of participation in girls’ sports, passed the Senate State Affairs committee on an 8-1 vote.


SB 46 would permit only biological females to participate in women’s sports and would grant an athlete “a private cause of action for injunctive relief” against a school district if it caused “harm” to the athlete.


An amendment to the bill added a “hold harmless clause” that would require the State’s Attorney General represent a school district in court should it be sued for following the state law and any damages incurred by the school through a lawsuit would be paid by the state.


ASBSD opposes the bill through the Association’s resolution B7. Decision-Making Authority Regarding Transgender Legislation that was approved by members in November at Delegate Assembly.


“The Associated School Boards has been consistent in our position,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany told committee members, reiterating the consistent support of Association members of the resolution, which was adopted in 2016, leaving these decisions at the local level and the inclusion of support of the South Dakota Activities Association’s policy on participation in athletics.


Proponents of the bill repeatedly cited the need to protect female athletes in competition in South Dakota with University of Nebraska-Kearney Professor Gregory Brown testifying “all that Senate Bill 46 seeks to do” is allow females to compete on a “level playing field.”


SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos told committee members in the nearly a decade since the Activities Association implemented their participation policy the state has “had one transgender athlete participate in the history of our policy” and there no transgender athletes “participating at this time.”


Pogany added the SDHSAA policy is “a good option” because “it protects schools from harm.” He also noted the bill “cannot stop” a federal investigation of a school district for a Title IX violation and there’s “the possibility of losing federal funds” if the district is found guilty of a violation.


“It puts schools in an impossible situation,” Pogany said. “Please do not put schools at risk.”


SB 46 now moves to the Senate floor for review and vote. A similar bill has been introduced on the House side in House Bill 1006, which ASBSD also opposes.


For updates on the bill and the 2022 legislative session, check the ASBSD Blog and Bill Tracker page.

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