Girls’ sports participation bill passes House comm., paused on floor

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Girls’ sports participation bill passes House comm., paused on floor

The proposed participation change for girls’ sports was stopped short of signature, for now.


Senate Bill 46, which changes the process of participation in girls’ sports, saw its way through the House State Affairs committee on an 11-2 vote, sending it to the House floor, where its debate was delayed following the introduction of an amendment to the bill that resulted in a motion being made to pause discussion for two legislative days.


SB 46 would permit only biological females to participate in women’s sports as proponents argued across the country transgender female participation in women’s sports was creating a fairness issue.


“We are seeing cases all over the country,” Governor’s Interim Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel Mark Miler told committee members during the bill’s hearing in House State Affairs.


“It’s sort of like terrorism, you want to keep it over there, not here.”


Here in South Dakota the state’s High School Activities Association has had a policy on participation in athletics, which includes a lengthy review process for participation of a transgender athlete in high school sports, in place for nearly a decade. In that time period, one transgender female athlete has participated in a girl’s sport.


ASBSD opposes the bill with Executive Director Wade Pogany sharing concerns with committee members how “this legislation cannot stop the (U.S.) Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights” from investigating a school districts for not complying with federal law.


“It puts us in the crosshairs,” Pogany testified, adding “the ultimate penalty” is the loss of federal funds.


Along with the potential loss of federal funds, SB 46 would grant an athlete “a private cause of action for injunctive relief” against a school district if it caused “harm” to the athlete. The bill does include a “hold harmless clause” that would require the State’s Attorney General represent a school district in court should it be sued and have the state pay damages incurred.


For now, schools await for the debate on SB 46 to resume and for updates, check the ASBSD Blog and Billtracker page.

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