Press "Enter" to skip to content

Legislature Bursting with Bigotry: Three Bills Attack Transgender Kids

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:

  1. Marriage is or should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
  2. Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage; or
  3. 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.


  1. Ben Cerwinske 2016-01-30 16:09

    I never hear any data on how students feel about this issue. Have any surveys been conducted like they have with other issues students might have difficulty talking about openly with adults?

  2. mike from iowa 2016-01-30 16:09

    I’m Kim Davis and I approve this measure. The state of Kentucky now happily hands me my $80K salary and I don’t have to do a damn thing but collect it because of religious freedumb. Another overpaid,under worked elected official getting mucho dinero for nothing. Taking care of business,god’s way.

  3. Eve Fisher 2016-01-30 17:12

    I’ve said this before, but the simplest solution – other than getting these yahoos to yank these bills before we’re slammed into a courtroom for their reeking unconstitutionality (and yes, SCOTUS has spoken on this) – at least regarding the transgender bathroom thing is to declare all bathrooms unisex, and no more showers in school. There: problem solved. You go into the bathroom, lock the door, and you have complete privacy. If the students get whiffy, they get whiffy.

    Re the other stinking bill – I used to work for Medical Genetics at Emory University, where one of my jobs was to figure out what sex a baby was, because neither the doctors, the nurses, or the parents could tell by looking at its little baby parts. We did this through genetic testing, and let me tell you, it was often quite a surprise. Looking at someone’s privates actually does not always tell you what sex that person is.

    Finally, I see this religious freedom bill as one more in the line of bulls**t bills, because it is EXCLUSIVELY aimed at LGBT and women. “Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage” means some pharmacist can turn a woman down for the birth control pill or IUD or anything else.

    And you know, and I know, that if there’s ever a question of Muslim religious freedom of conscience bill, someone’s going to scream Sharia law and start wanting to call out the National Guard. I want to call out the National Guard on these two.

  4. Tim 2016-01-30 17:43

    Isn’t living in a republican state grand? Please excuse me while I go throw up!

  5. Carla 2016-01-31 09:37

    After cleaning locker rooms and gyms for 20 years, I can tell you this….kids do not shower after games or practice much anymore. They do it at home. Rare to see kids shower in the locker room. Most schools, like ours, have bathroom stalls that lock and shower curtains for privacy. School administrators can handle this on their own without the interference of legislators. Good grief. Waste of time.

  6. Jerry K. Sweeney 2016-01-31 11:36

    I shall warrant, ere long, acronym dictionaries will list Sanctimonious Disgrace as one of the definitions of SD.

  7. mike from iowa 2016-01-31 12:43

    I don’t think much of wingnut’s ability to think or reason,but we all know that kids-if left to their own devices -sort this stuff out and carry on with no ill effects, Kids have to be taught differences in skin color and the negative connatations adults put on those differences.

  8. O 2016-01-31 18:51

    I worry how this plays out – not in abstract generalities, but in specific identification of students for chastising. YOUR mother and mother are abominations because, “Marriage is or should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” It is OK for me to pin this scarlet A to the shirt of a pregnant student because, “Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage.” I will refer to you as “he/him” only (not your requested designation of female pronouns) because, “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.”

    As a “blue” thinker in a “red” state, I empathize with feeling like your beliefs are under constant assault; I even get the need to protect what you see as the right of free-though and free-expression, but when in a position of power (like a teacher or legislator), the distinction between free-thought (which we ALL absolutely have a right to) and advocacy needs to be tempered because real harm can result.

    Does this open the door for me to also tell students that all the non-Catholics cannot make it to heaven?

    Similar cautions need to be considered on “academic freedom” legislation that allows teachers to teach religious beliefs in science classes.

  9. grudznick 2016-01-31 18:53

    What? Non-Catholics can’t go to heaven? Has anybody told the Protestants and are the protesting again?

  10. O 2016-01-31 19:41

    Eve, I have heard of cases elsewhere of a pharmacist turning down a woman for prescribed birth control or IUD because of religious objections, but I have not heard of a unmarried man being turned down for his “little blue pill.” Is more afoot here than condemnation of promiscuity?

  11. grudznick 2016-01-31 19:43

    Is Dr. Monroe voting for this law bill?

  12. Porter Lansing 2016-01-31 20:50

    Reps. Hunt and Deutsch, does the HB in front of your bills stand for HayBilly or HateBill? I say both.
    Mr. Deutsch, if it was viable to determine whether a fetus (you know, before it becomes a baby) in the womb was homosexual, lesbian or transgender would your position on abortion change? Because ” hey, it’s God’s will those queers be punished”.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-31 21:35

    O, HB 1107 focuses on allowing us to discriminate against people who don’t conform to fundamentalist Christian conceptions of marriage, sexual practices, and gender identity. It does not allow Catholics to pick on non-Catholics just for not being Catholic. Nor does it allow atheists to discriminate against theists. HB 1107 is a strange religious freedom bill, focusing not on broad religious freedom for all types of religions, but only on the expression and practice of a handful of narrow sexual ethics preached by certain specific denominations.

    Oh my—is HB 1107 essentially establishing a state religion?

  14. Lorri May 2016-01-31 21:37

    Why are we (meaning our esteemed legislature) bothering with three bills that will harm a handful of students? How about if we put curtains on shower stalls, locks on bathroom doors, and get to the REAL business of schools: raising teacher pay and funding schools so that our students – gay, straight, bi, trans, or queer – get the BEST education possible?

  15. Eve Fisher 2016-02-01 09:58

    O, all of these “religious freedom” and “religious conscience” bills are aimed at women: there’s never been a case yet where a pharmacist or doctor denies a man Viagra, Cialis, condoms, or anything else that might enhance his sexuality or allow him to prevent pregnancy. But women… Whether it’s the pill or an IUD or the morning after pill, or even condoms (does your Mother know you’re buying that?), women are simply not supposed to have access to birth control because women aren’t supposed to initiate sex, have sex outside of marriage, and we are certainly not supposed to prevent a pregnancy in any way. (If the man wants to prevent pregnancy, well, isn’t that considerate of him?) If we don’t want to have children, we should simply be completely celibate; but, of course, to be unmarried is unwomanly. And they don’t ever want to hear about cases of rape or incest, which (as one ultra-conservative told me) are simply “unverified anecdotes”. (I wish he’d been in the courtroom the day a man was convicted for raping all five of his grandchildren…)

    Anyway, whenever I hear of religious conscience / freedom bills I start sniffing the air for the rich aroma of bulls**t, because that’s all it is. The people who put these forward certainly have no intention of allowing anyone else THEIR religious freedoms, because only their religion counts.

  16. Porter Lansing 2016-02-01 10:37

    Excellent analysis, Ms. Fisher ✯✯✯✯✯

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-01 21:22

    Absolutely, excellent. This bill isn’t about religious freedom. It is about establishing certain religious views of the Christian sponsors as state religion. Fire up, ACLU!

Comments are closed.