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Noem’s Sports Double Standard: Freedom for Jesusy Homeschoolers, Punishment for Deviant Transgender Girls

I sense an inconsistency in Governor Kristi Noem’s approach to school sports.

In her ballyhooed homeschool anarchy act (Senate Bill 177), Governor Noem authorizes parents to keep their kids home for education without presenting a birth certificate to the school district charged with ensuring equal education for all. Children homeschooled from kindergarten could thus go undocumented throughout their K-12 career. But Noem’s SB 177 opens the door for those undocumented children to participate in any school activities.

SB 177 holds those homeschool extracurricular participants “to the same local training rules and South Dakota High School Activities Association transfer and non-academic eligibility rules as enrolled students.” Academic eligibility rules seem deliberately left out. The student in the regular public school classroom has to keep her grades up to play basketball; an athlete who struggles to pass algebra could switch to homeschool and never face the prospect of missing play time because of bad homework or tests.

SB 177 even opens the door for the academically struggling athlete to switch to homeschool in the middle of the school year and remain eligible for the next sport season. Under current law, a student switching to alternative instruction must sit out for a full year; SB 177 allows an academically struggling star athlete to switch to homeschool in October, miss the remainder of the volleyball season, then suit up to practice and play basketball right away in November.

Yet while homeschool students are given this new freedom to compete in school sports without documentation of their birth or their academic progress, some transgender athletes are banned from the courts of their choosing. House Bill 1217, which bully Noem said she is excited to sign, bans transgender females from competing in female team sports. (Transgender males remain welcome to participate on male teams, which invites a whole nother analysis of double standardization in our Executive and Legislative branches.) Transgender women must adhere to the the sex declared on their birth certificates. Transgender women who dare compete with women will subject their schools and sports organizations to all sorts of lawsuits.

The selfish double standard here is clear: Governor Noem favors homeschoolers, because lots of them believe in her personal Jesus and help her wage war against the great and necessary liberal (i.e., liberating) institution of public education. Governor Noem punishes transgender South Dakotans, because they don’t think like her; they represent a different, more inclusive South Dakota that runs against her vision of a theocratic Whitopia.


  1. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-03-16 08:03

    Wonder how Noem would feel if some homeschooled Buddhists or Krishna or Sikhs wanted to jump into local school sports? Jesus flag would disappear, Bigot flag up the flagpole?

    I think a Buddhist or non Christian religion would do better than that. They could set up a nice K-8 or K-12 private school, and they could say, we like to play soccer or baseball. But we don’t compete. We play!

  2. Donald Pay 2021-03-16 08:21

    When I was on the school board, I thought homeschoolers should be able to participate in whatever programs they wanted, provided they pass certain proficiency tests in math and reading once a year. I thought such accommodation was a way that public schools could show what great kids we have and what a great educational experience we provide. But that was not the law, so there was this standoff between public schools and homeschools that was really unnecessary.

    Most homeschool parents were diligent in providing the basics, and I saw no reason to exclude kids just because I might disagree with their educational programming in some areas. As long as the students were meeting certain gauges of educational progress in reading and math, I was fine with homeschool kids participating in sports, music, debate, etc. In fact, if a homeschool parent didn’t feel competent to teach algebra or some other subject, I was fine if the homeschool student came in to that class only.

    The problem is that homeschools are not adequately regulated. There are about 5 percent of homeschoolers that are excused so they can be truants. They get no real instruction at home, and they run the streets. The police in Rapid City know who they are. The school board was provided a list of students who sought to be excused from state law on attendance, and we were required to vote to excuse students who we knew were using homeschool as a way to be truant. In fact you could guarantee that if a student was truant in public school, the next year they would be on the homeschool list.

  3. Nick Nemec 2021-03-16 12:21

    Is there a cause for action here because HB1217 treats transgender girls and transgender boys differently? We are codifying discrimination based on gender.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-03-16 12:28

    Nick, I’d say yes. We need to find someone with standing… and as the press has noted, the legislators sponsoring this nuttiness and Noem herself can’t point to any specific instances in this state where this issue has caused anyone problems.

    Still, the same measure in Idaho got nuked by a court; expect court action here, too.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-03-16 12:30

    Let agnostics and other non-Christians take over the home school movement in South Dakota, and Noem’s pro-home school position would disappear.

  6. bearcreekbat 2021-03-16 13:40

    Aren’t there any religions that accept transgender members and express the belief that they should have equal value and equal rights as all other members? Perhaps this legislation discriminates against that good faith religious belief that all people, including transgenders, should be treated in a similar manner. By excluding an identifiable class of people that are good faith females, regardles of physical attributes, perhaps these types of laws arguably violate the religious teachings of individuals that believe each human being is born with the divine right to decide what gender they are or will become. Members of that religious sect, whether transgender or not, would seem to have standing to challenge such discriminatory laws.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-03-16 14:34

    You know bearcreekbat, on the Simpsons, Bart was playing a Christian video game at the religious neighbors the Flanders that turned those shot into Christians. He only winged, one as Todd or Rod said, so he was turned into a Unitarian. The Unitarians accept transgender members.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2021-03-16 16:25

    well…I agree with Donald Pay completely…these kids Must be tested or they’ll grow up to be just as intelligent as their parents, and as socially awkward. I was coaching girls basketball for 4th graders years ago and had a girl who tried hard but couldn’t follow directions, had much trouble understanding group activity and playing a role within a group. She had trouble doing things in order (pass the ball, set a screen, roll to the basket, look for a pass, catch the pass, shoot) Another girl approached me off to the side and said “don’t yell at her, we’ll help her, she’s been homeschooled.”

  9. Bob Newland 2021-03-16 17:35

    We SoDakians have to live with a whole panoply of laws which apply to women and not men. No man is required to navigate a set of humiliating steps in order to not become a parent against his will.

  10. grudznick 2021-03-16 18:10

    When the Conservatives with Common Sense open the “Pagan Charter School for Boys and Some Girls,” we will happily have my good friend Bob as a speaker at assembly. Mr. H too.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-03-16 18:11

    BCB, a religious angle… I like that thought. I’m inclined to look first to our Lakota neighbors who might have a two-spirit athlete who would have standing… but we have to be careful: the “two-spirit” concept may not port neatly to who gets to play basketball on either of our binary-sexed teams. We need to navigate how a concept that means different things in different tribes applies to determining how that person fits into our HS basketball assumption that the players will be either girls or boys.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-03-16 18:19

    Bob reminds us that the sex discrimination Nick suggests wwe take to court is part of then Noem/GOP mindset and strategy. They really like this law not just because it serves as red meat for the Neanderthal base and bullies transgender people and liberals in general but also because it reinforces the GOP belief that women are fragile creatures who require the protection of the patriarchy.

  13. Mark Anderson 2021-03-16 18:49

    You know Cory, Kristi is pretty fragile.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-03-16 18:59

    Brittle, Mark, empty, and easy to beat in a real debate… but backed by lots of fascist millionaires, idolized by thugs, and wielding power that makes her dangerous.

  15. mike from iowa 2021-03-16 19:14

    Magats automatically assume trans- girls will be bigger and stronger than non- trans girls. Are there any studies to provide ammo one way or another. I mean legit studies, not alternative facts bullslop.

  16. T 2021-03-16 21:52

    I’m in ND saw a short commercial for women in history I thought it was with women and nomes pic in middle of it. Anyone else see this? And wonder why all the sudden I. Seeing this??? Or maybe it was women in business ? I asked some people sitting around this restaurant what was that? No one seemed to be paying attention….. curious as to why this ran and if equality or importance was the intent of commercial, that would be amusing….as clearly, with no offense given that isn’t what equality really is,,,,,…..just across the border on a local station…..

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