This spring, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill that would have prevented transgender students from using restrooms, locker rooms, and showers that match their gender identity.
With the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota and LGBT activists in the state, Human Rights Watch was an early and persistent voice against the bill, called HB 1008. After the bill was introduced, we wrote to legislators highlighting our firsthand research about the impact that such restrictions have on the dignity, privacy, safety, and health of transgender students, and sent a researcher to the state to speak with students and monitor the law’s progress through the legislature in Pierre, South Dakota’s capital. After a number of groups, including Human Rights Watch, conveyed concern, the governor vetoed the bill.
In response to an unprecedented number of bills targeting transgender students, Human Rights Watch has also spoken out against so-called “bathroom bills” in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Michigan; restrictions on transgender student participation in extracurricular activities in Texas; and efforts by certain elected officials in Michigan to eliminate the state’s Board of Education, an elected body, over their proposed guidelines to improve school climates for LGBT youth. Human Rights Watch will continue to work to make sure all students – including LGBT students – feel safe, included, and able to learn.