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South Dakota senate passes transgender athlete bill Monday

Sen. Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) presents HB1217 on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.
Sen. Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) presents HB1217 on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.(South Dakota Broadcasters Association)
Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 1:55 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - A bill that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on the sports teams that match their gender identity was passed by the South Dakota Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill 1217 passed by a 20-15 vote Monday.

The ACLU of South Dakota testified against the bill, stating it violates the United States Constitution and federal civil rights laws.

“In an attempt to ‘level the playing field,’ House Bill 1217 excludes an entire group of women and girls from meaningful participation in sports,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “House Bill 1217 isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports. It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life. It’s about creating solutions to problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

Along with the ACLU of South Dakota, organizations like the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the Sioux Falls Sports Authority, the South Dakota Board of Regents, the School Administrators of South Dakota and The Transformation Project, also oppose House Bill 1217.

Last week, the bill was successfully smoked out by a 18-16 vote. Senator Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) made the motion, which needed a one-third vote. Sutton has argued allowing transgender students to participate could damage sports and invalidate Title IX. She told senators they need a chance to hear more testimony before sending it to the 41st day.

Previously, the bill was effectively killed when it was moved to the 41st Legislative Day by the Senate Affairs Committee. Earlier, the bill passed through the House by a 50-to-17 vote last month.

This is a developing story.

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