In other efforts to hang the “Different People Not Welcome” sign on South Dakota, the South Dakota Legislature continued its war on transgender kids this week.
On Wednesday, the full house approved House Bill 1008, Rep. Fred Deutsch’s paranoid potty bill that (1) assigns bathrooms and locker rooms purely by biological sex as determined at birth and not by the more complicated concept of gender and (2) mandates that schools seeking to accommodate transgender students must do so with separate and hence unequal facilities.
Supporters of HB 1008 insist that they’re trying to protect privacy, but the ACLU agrees with me that if privacy were the real concern behind HB 1008, our legislators would be mandating lockable toilet stalls and private showers for every student. Single-occupancy facilities would guarantee the privacy of every student washing up at school, without the need for any intrusive inquiry as to any student’s sex or gender.
But HB 1008 isn’t about privacy. It’s about picking on transgender kids. 58 House members voted to keep waging culture war on kids who’d just like to play basketball and potty in peace; 10 House members voted against this bullying. The vote mostly split by party: two Democrats, Rep. Ray Ring of Vermillion and Rep. Dean Schrempp of Lantry, voted to invite a Title IX lawsuit; only one Republican, Rep. Tona Rozum of Mitchell, voted for decency and equal rights.
Elsewhere in the culture war, genital-curious Rep. Roger Hunt renews the Legislature’s attack on the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s consideration for transgender student-athletes. Rep. Hunt’s House Bill 1112 would ban the SDHSAA from adopting any transgender policy. The Legislature rejected two similar bills last year, but picking on vulnerable kids and stroking their faux-faily-value prejudices just feels to good to give up… especially in an election year.
To top it off, Reps. Hunt and Deutsch have signed on with several other culture warriors to House Bill 1107, which would dress up anti-LGBT discrimination as religious freedom. Call it the Kim Davis Bigotry as Public Policy Act: HB 1107 forbids the state from taking any “discriminatory action” against any person (including public employees) for acting on the basis of “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that:
- Marriage is or should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
- Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage; or
- The terms male or man and female or woman refer to distinct and immutable biological sexes that are determined by anatomy and genetics by the time of birth.”
Every person already has the religious and moral freedom to think that transgender people are just confused or pretending, that homosexuals are vile perverts, and that shagging someone you have not married will send you to Heck (busy place, that Heck). But the state and its employees have no First Amendment right to impose those religious and moral beliefs on individuals seeking public services like marriage licenses, education, and public safety. HB 1107 tells county clerks they can refuse marriage licenses to anyone who doesn’t rise to their moral standards. HB 1107 tells teachers they can discriminate against LGBT students. HB 1107 tells cops they can refuse to respond to a domestic violence call from a transgender or homosexual victim, because hey, it’s God’s will those queers be punished.
You can have vile, bigoted thoughts. You can say vile, bigoted things. But you can’t make vile, bigoted actions public policy. HB 1107 will not stand Constitutional review. Let’s hope it, HB 1112, and HB 1008 will not stand any further Legislative review or, if necessary, the Governor’s review.