HB 1220 was heard and killed in House State Affairs Committee on February 24 by a vote of 10-3.
EqSD strongly opposed this bill, which would have allowed an individual to discriminate based upon their religious belief.
You read the minutes listen to committee testimony and action online:
Those testifying in support of HB 1220 were:
A class from Sunshine Bible Academy was present during the hearing on Friday.
Rep. Craig was asked by a committee member for examples of how this bill would benefit citizens today if it passed. Craig could not cite any such examples.
Those testifying against HB 1220 were:
Pardy stated this bill would put a significant burden on state and local governments to defend themselves against claims of religious infringement at the expense of taxpayers.
Shekleton stated this bill does not address any existing problem in SD.
Both Pardy and Shekleton cited examples of how HB 1220 would create problems for jails and schools.
Rep. Stevens explained his motion to defer HB 1220 to the 41st legislative day by which the bill is killed:
Voting to pass HB 1220 were:
Voting to kill HB 1220 were:
Equality South Dakota and many of our allies strongly opposed this bill, and, in coordination with others, encouraged our members to track it through our Facebook group.
Equality South Dakota did not testify on HB 1220 since the way it was written the bill did not directly address LGBT issues. It was felt if EqSD would testify, this would bring attention that this is a LGBT related bill and thereby hinder the possibility of killing it.
The South Dakota Democratic Party conducted an online petition when HB 1220 was introduced. The petition garnered around 3000 signers. The petition was not released to the legislators because we did not want to give the impression that the defeat of HB 1220 would then be viewed as being a partisan issue.
An unrelated item is HB 1211 which would have repealed the requirement for a marriage license and provided instead for a marriage certificate. This bill was read in the House, and was killed in House Local Government by a vote of 8-5. We do not know what the intent of this bill was. EqSD did not take any position on this bill since we found out about it too late.
Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators regarding HB 1220 and spread the word to others.
HB 1161 prohibits the SD High School Activities Association from establishing policy relating to sexuality or gender identity, other than the basic distinction between male and female high school activities.
Equality South Dakota is opposed to this legislation.
Passed the House Education Committee on Feb 11 by 9-6.
Voting NO on 1161 were:
These testifying FOR HB 1161 were:
Those testifying AGAINST HB 1161 were:
HB 1161 passed the House on Feb 17 by 46-23-1. (HB 1195 passed by 51-16 so we gained some votes on HB 1161.)
Those voting NO were:
On Monday, February 2, Terri Carlson (Sioux Falls PFLAG president) accompanied two courageous transgender young people to provide testimony against House bills 1195 and 1161, which aim to recind a well-thought-out policy instituted last year by the South Dakota High School Activities Association to support and protect transgender students in South Dakota.
Terri's testimony was wonderful and needed, but we are especially proud of these two young ladies that stepped up to tell their story, in front a legislative committee and openly hostile lobbyists from the Family Heritage Council and Concerned Women for America's South Dakota chapter.
Terri, Kendra, and Andrea were kind enough to share their written-out testimony here. But we highly recommend you also listen to audio posted online (1195 discussion starts at 51:20). It's powerful stuff, and yes, it does include some ignorance and hate from the 1195 proponents. We are amazed and impressed that our heroes kept their composure when some pretty ugly and outrageous things were said. However, in the audio you can hear some positive things from the SDSHSAA lawyer and some of the Legislators that I couldn't imagine hearing just a few years ago.
Read on below the fold...
Good morning, Mr. Chairman---members of the committee---
My name is Terri Carlson. I am a resident of Sioux Falls.
I am here today speaking as a straight mom, a parent who wants all people to have equal access, an equal chance to contribute to society, and the means to live a fulfilling life.
As a parent, I want both of my sons—one who is a member of the lgbt community and one who is straight-- to have the same opportunities as each other. Which parent wouldn’t want these things? (and i see that many of you are in my age bracket, so i will add grandparents and grandchildren!)
Every transgender student affected by this bill is the child of parents like me who also want their children to be safe and have meaningful chances…just as I’m sure each of you do.
The South Dakota high school activities association adopted a policy that would allow participation for all students—regardless of their gender identiy or expression. The purpose of this policy was to designate a set of criteria in which students would be able to compete on a level playing field in a safe, competitive and friendly environment, free of discrimination.
As was pointed out, this policy was not set up hastily—those involved in its formation took many considerations into play when writing it.
Transgender students now are a part of everyday American life, as society has become more accepting of all kinds of differences. Yes, South Dakota is the home of many transgender men and women.
In Sioux Falls i met with the city attorney and the director of parks and rec at least 5 years ago to address the issues of transgender changing rooms at our city pools.
Law enforcement in Brookings, SD is participating in transgender education, and hopes to include all law enforcement in our state.
And that is why we want all students to have the opportunity to participate in school activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on a student’s records.
My son lived in a closet for nearly 15 years because of our societal norms.
Transgender kids often live in fearful silence. This policy helps these students and all kids that are different to be accepted and to contribute to their community.
Our school professionals have bravely stepped forward to improve—and perhaps even save—the lives of these students. They should be applauded.
The support and protection of our students is not a partisan issue—instead, our legislature should be giving our educators all the tools they need to make our schools safe, nurturing and supportive for our children—your children and my children—especially LGBT students who are particularly at risk of unfair treatment.
I must disagree with Mr. Chase's statistics. Research shows that transgender youth have an exponentially higher rate of suicide than other students.
Transgender students who are allowed to participate in activities with their peers benefit not only in the area of sports, but in being given a chance to be who they are and to live authentically.
The support and protection of our students is not a partisan issue—instead, our legislature should be giving our educators all the tools they need to make our schools safe, nurturing and supportive for our children—your children and my children, and especially LGBT students who are particularly at risk of unfair treatment.
I ask you to please vote no on HB1195.
Thank you for your time.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee:
My name is Kendra Heathscott from Sioux Falls. I am an out transgender woman. I am here because this bill devalues and dehumanizes trans people and makes for an unfair advantage. This affects trans youth on many different levels. This takes away from core moments and memories during school years. This also literally tells trans youth that they are not valued and questions their worth. This also puts trans youth in a non-safe space, which then leads to bullying. I have been out for 5 years and I am not in a position to change my birth certificate at this time. I have years ahead of me before I am able to change my birth certificate.... How can we expect a high schooler to go through that long process just to participate in athletic activities? Therefore you are putting them in a position so they are unable to participate with the gender they identify with.
I always felt uncomfortable during PE and athletic activities in general. I always wanted to try out for volleyball during my high school years. But I was unable to but I was happy to learn last year that the South Dakota High School Activities Association had developed a policy that laid out a frame work for parents, schools, and children that had the potential of improving and saving the lives of transgender students by allowing them to participate in athletics.
I was also unable to live authentically and express my gender identity. I remember not only being bullied by other students but even teachers. I was pushed around by most of the guys that were in the sports, so the chance of putting myself in a situation of non-safety to participate in things I would potentially enjoy was very slim because I was scared and ashamed. Which then led to my academics deteriorating. Which then led to me being another trans statistic of the high school drop out rates. All that trans youth want is to live their truth just as everyone else. Trans youth should be worrying about prom and graduation and going to college-- not worrying about if they are unable to participate in normal school activities just like every other student.
Today we remember a young trans woman; her name was Leelah Alcorn. Before she had committed suicide she had left a note for her parents and on several social media sites. At the end of this letter she had stated, "Gender needs to be taught in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something.... Fix society. Please."
I want society to be fixed too. We all should.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. My name is Andrea Kosters. I am an out transgender female. I live in and attend high school in Emery, SD. This is my last year at my school and I want it to be the best it can be. I am very fortunate to be in a school that accepts me. School administration has let me be myself in activities such as band, choir, yearbook, journalism, oral interrupt, and theater. The minute I wanted to join sports they had a problem with me being transgender. Why it is okay to participate in the other activates, but not in sports? (Side note: Bolin commented that it would be unfair for sizes, I think that everyone is a different shape and size, There a big girls, and there are really small guy.)
I first thought about joining cheerleading in 8th grade. I asked the cheer coach if I could join and she told me she would talk to my principal and get back to me. I never heard back from anyone. So the next season before basketball cheerleading I asked again and still never heard anything back. When football came I went and talked directly to my principal and after a few different conversations she said she would have a meeting with the school board and change the rules. I finally got to be in cheerleading after 2 years of trying. But, the fact is they made me dress as a guy. It was bittersweet
I continued to ask if I could dress like the other girls and I was denied. Because I wasn’t able to be my true-self I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have because I had to dress as someone I’m not. I also endured embarrassment, and harassment from other school kids. (Side note: It was kids from other schools not my own. If I were able to dress like a girl most of them wouldn’t know me and I would be just like the other girls and they harassment would have been limited.) – (And just like I said in my interview I would much rather be bullied for being me then having “a costume” of someone I’m not, on.) I felt not only embarrassed, but also shamed and depressed.
The reason why I am here is because I don’t want other kids like me to be denied who they are. We should be happy they want to be active. They want to have exercise. They simply want to be themselves. By voting against this bill, you can help all of us be ourselves.
There was a nice bi-partisan turnout at Equality South Dakota’s legislative reception held at View 34 in Pierre on the evening of January 29, 2015. Sixteen legislators – nine Democrats and seven Republicans attended. Also in attendance were some family members, several lobbyists and legislative staff people. The legislators visited with members of the LGBT and allied communities, and met Nancy and Jen Rosenbrahn, the lead couple in the lawsuit that recently overturned South Dakota’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"The energy from all was contagious," stated Rosenbrahn. "Meeting the legislators was a great experience in practicing what we learned about talking to our [representatives]."
The evening reception completed a great day for equality in South Dakota. Twenty-seven members of the LGBT and allied communities traveled in by two vans – one from Sioux Falls, the other from Rapid City – for the legislative day. Attendees came from Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Brookings, Yankton, Chamberlain, Mitchell, Salem, Wessington Springs and Custer. Groups represented were Equality South Dakota, Black Hills Center for Equality, Sioux Falls Center for Equality, Sioux Falls PFLAG, Yankton PFLAG, and Common Ground Diversity Center (Sioux Falls).
During the afternoon, attendees heard presentations on:
Legislation was also a topic of discussion:
Angela Jimenez Photography from Minneapolis interviewed legislators and meeting attendees to document the day’s events. The event also picked up some good press coverage from KEVN-TV, and KOTA radio, and the blog Madville Times.
The LGBT legislative day was funded by a grant Equality South Dakota received from the PFund Foundation based in Minneapolis. Additional in-kind support was provided by GeoFunTrek Tours and Complete Weddings and Events.