Student Bathroom Debate Continues

S.D. Legislators React to Federal Government Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education announced guidelines Friday for public school’s handling of student bathroom use.

It deems any discrimination against a student’s bathroom choice, including transgender, as a title nine violation.

If states do not follow the federal government’s guidelines, the state can lose public education funding.

Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed similar legislation, H.B. 1008, back in March.

Rep. Karen Soli was one of ten voters in the House against the bill and doesn’t see this as a problem in schools.

“I thought the decision, as I read it over, might look like it’ll be helpful to the schools and from the school officials I’ve talked to, it’s kind of what they’re doing already which is why the governor vetoed any state law on the issue,” said Rep. Soli.

Rep. Fred Deutsch, sponsor of H.B. 1008, said he believes this could be a problem for schools of all levels.

He said he doesn’t see a clear line on how to accommodate the issue, including in locker rooms and college dorm rooms.

“This is an overwhelming requirement by bureaucrats and I think it’ll have a big impact on school districts and colleges all over the country,” said Rep. Deutsch.

Rep. Jim Bolin said Congress would need to pass a bill to make this directive law.

He was critical of the Obama administration for making this decision.

“It’s the classic example where elections have consequences and the president and his administration has a very radical social agenda that seeks to overturn traditional concepts and values in America,” said Rep. Bolin.

Rep. Soli doesn’t agree with her colleagues that this decision poses a threat.

“I hope that we could find ways to set aside our fear on this issue and replace it with education and understanding,” said Rep. Soli.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office echoed representative Bolin in a statement, calling the guidelines an overreach by the Obama Administration.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley also responded, saying, “President Obama does not have the legal authority to mandate South Dakota schools and parents to require our children to share locker rooms and bathrooms with children of the opposite sex…this mandate and threat of lawsuits and withholding of education funding for children is not a proper approach.”