South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sent HB 1217 back to the legislature without a full veto Friday giving them until March 29, to amend it. The Legislature can either act according to Noem’s wishes or ignore her request with a simple majority vote. In the case of the latter, HB 1217 will become law without any further action by Noem.
Noem had originally indicated that she would sign it in a celebratory Women’s Day tweet. But she has reconsidered due to the potential of an NCAA championship boycott, the loss of prestige, and millions in state revenue.
A hard pass but not a veto.
Opponents to the bill had warned that it would cause the state to lose out on millions of dollars from the NCAA if it pulls out of sports tournaments, though it was not clear if Noem’s proposed changes would ultimately deter that.
“I am also concerned that the approach House Bill 1217 takes is unrealistic in the context of collegiate athletics,” Noem said in a letter sent to lawmakers.
Noem instructed the lawmakers in a tweet to amend the ban so as to exclude transgender girls from participating in interscholastic and intramural sports in grades 1 to Highschool graduation.
The proposed revisions limit HB 1217 to elementary and secondary school athletics, which are primarily conducted among South Dakota schools and at the high school level are governed by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, a creature of South Dakota law. (16/)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 19, 2021
Governor Noem did not mention that President Biden has instructed the Department of Education and the Attorney General to identify states that violate Title 1X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those found in violation face the possible defunding of State educational programs.
There are currently no transgender girls competing in girls’ high school sports, according to the South Dakota High School Activities Association, which has a policy for evaluating applications from transgender athletes on a case-by-case basis. The association reported that only one transgender girl has ever competed in girls’ sports in the state. She has since graduated and did not disrupt the competitive fairness of other girls, according to the association.
It was never actually about “fairness” or the welfare of children, but that comes as no surprise to seasoned advocates. This is a GOP wedge issue 20 states are using to enrage and motivate their party decimated by the loss of morality, the presidency, and both the Senate and the House majority.
“We’re really calling on Gov. Noem and legislators to recognize the serious physical, emotional and psychological harm that this would cause trans kids across South Dakota,” said Susan Williams, who heads the Transformation Project. “In short, it threatens their lives.”
“House Bill 1217 was never about protecting fairness in women’s sports. It was about discrimination and the erasure of trans girls, pure and simple,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Gov. Noem’s decision not to issue a full veto of this anti-transgender bill into law is disappointing. We are relieved, however, that the organizing by trans youth and pressure from business leaders, educators, and parents have given us the chance to fight to block this bill from passing.
Codifying discrimination like this does nothing but hurt some of the most vulnerable people in our state. South Dakota should be better than this. The South Dakota legislature should take this moment to altogether abandon this bill that will hurt trans youth, all girls and women who want to play school sports, and South Dakota’s economy.”