Sponsor Of H.B. 1008 Disappointed, ACLU Thankful

Governor vetoes bill regarding transgender students and public school bathrooms

A bill that’s caused a lot of controversy and put South Dakota in the national spotlight with LGBT advocates will not become law.

Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed House Bill 1008, which would have required public school students to use bathrooms that match their gender assigned at birth. 

“I’m just so happy,” says ACLU Policy Director Libby Skarin. She says the Governor’s decision is positive for the state. 

“This sends a strong message to everyone in South Dakota that discrimination is not tolerated,” says Skarin. 

But not everyone is sharing the same feeling. 

“It’s disappointing,” says District 4 Representative Fred Deutsch.

Rep. Deutsch sponsored House Bill 1008, and says the proposal was intended to be non-discriminatory and provide privacy for all public school students. 

“That’s why I had the section in there on accommodations,” says Rep. Deutsch. ”I could have not included that. I could have said boys in the boys room and girls in the girls period, but I put in that a school would have to make a special accommodation to make everyone feel comfortable.” 

Rep. Deutsch met with the Governor right before he made his decision.

He says one of the Governor’s main reasons to veto the bill was because of liability issues, which Skarin says is valid. 

“Without a doubt if this became law, it would have created lawsuits,” says Skarin. “There would have been administrative complaints, because the law is clear; this would have put the state law at odds with the federal law.” 

ACLU and many transgender students met with Gov. Daugaard last week, and Skarin says whether or not that helped his decision Tuesday, she’s excited about the outcome. 

“It shows leadership, and I really hope that legislators across the country look to Gov.  Daugaard and the great decision he made today and the thoughtful process, and I hope they will follow suit,” says Skarin.

Rep. Deutsch says he will not ask for a veto override, saying it wouldn’t have enough votes in the senate.

As for next year, he says he doesn’t know if he’ll bring up the issue again.