All SD Transgender Bills Failed

Good news! The 3 anti-transgender bills that were introduced in the SD Legislature have all failed.   This report gives a wrap-up of all 3 bills plus a report on Equality SD’s legislative day.

I want to thank everyone who contacted their legislators on these bills.   Your efforts were successful and made a difference.   Please thank those legislators who voted to kill the bills.

SB 160 which would have prohibited instruction in gender identity or expression was up for its hearing in Senate Education on February 15.  If passed, SD would have been the first state to enact such a restriction.   This bill was opposed by several national organizations.  The bill was immediately hoghoused (completely amended and changed) by its sponsor Sen. Phil Jensen.  Sen. Jensen removed the language of the original bill and replaced it with language dealing with test assessments.   According to the explanation offered by Committee Chair Sen. Bolin, the original SB 160 was being used as a placeholder to bring forward an opportunity to have a separate hearing on test assessments.   After the discussion, the committee killed the hoghoused bill.  Yes, the legislators  play their legislative maneuver games and the transgender issue was used in this case.    SD LGBTQ activists are quoted in this article that was in INTO, a Los Angeles publication

SB 202 would have required the posting of a sign outside public restrooms giving notice that a person of the opposite sex may be in the restroom.   Bill sponsor Sen. Phil Jensen (R-Rapid City) stated that this bill is “a child protection bill pure and simple” and he brought it forward following Walgreens’ move to adopt a transgender bathroom policy.  Sen. Jensen was the only person speaking in favor of his bill and he was only able to offer a weak defense of his bill when questioned by the State Affairs Committee.   Debra Owens with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce spoke against bill stating this bill could hinder Sioux Falls’ attempts to host NCAA tournaments as it could be deemed discriminatory.  Committee Chair Sen. Bob Ewing (R-Spearfish) called the bill “somewhat poorly written and leaves a lot of doors open.”   The committee voted to kill the bill by 8-0.   The committee members are:  Sens. Bolin, Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls), Troy Heinert (D-Mission), Kris Langer (R-Dell Rapids), Ryan Maher (R-Isabel), Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen), Jenna Netherton (R-Sioux Falls) and Billie Sutton (D-Burke) who was excused.   One can listen to the audio recording of the hearing by clicking on the audio link:

HB 1296 would have required schools to have a policy covering use of bathrooms by transgender individuals.   The bill was killed in Judiciary Committee by 11-1 after committee members expressed fatigue with dealing with this issue for the past 3 years.   “We have discussed and discussed and discussed this,” said Rep. Susan Wismer (D-Britton).  “Every time this bill is introduced it targets a vulnerable population, and I regret that very much.”    The only committee member who voted for HB 1296 was Rep. Daniel Kaiser (R-Aberdeen).   Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-Canton) was excused (not in attendance).   Legislators voting to kill HB 1296 were Reps. Hugh Bartels (R-Watertown),  Michael Diedrich (R-Rapid City), Shawn Bordeaux (D-Mission), David Lust (R-Rapid City), Kent Peterson (R-Salem), Tim Reed (R-Brookings), Tona Rozum (R-Mitchell), Charles Turbiville (R-Deadwood), Susan Wismer (D-Britton), Timothy Johns (R-Lead), Mike Stevens (R-Yankton).   Lobbyists from 5 different school organizations, plus the social workers, ACLU-SD and LEAD spoke against HB 1296.    You can listen to the audio recording of committee testimony by clicking on the audio link at

A Washington DC LGBTQ newspaper interviewed EqSD board member Travis Letellier

Nine legislators attended Equality South Dakota’s legislative reception the evening of February 5.  Those attending were Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls), Rep. Arch Beal (R-Sioux Falls), Rep Kyle Schoenfish (R-Scotland), Rep. Spencer Hawley (D-Brookings), Sen Jim White (R-Huron), Rep Bob Glanzer (R-Huron), and Sen Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls).   Rep. Dan Ahlers (D-Dell Rapids)  was the only legislator who stayed for the entire reception.   Rep. Michael Diedrich (R-Rapid City) came to learn about Equality SD and spent time visiting with his Rapid City constituents.  Rep. Diedrich is new and was appointed to replace Craig Tieszen who died in a tragic accident last year.   Rep Tieszen was a good supporter of Equality SD.

Also attending the evening reception were 14 other individuals that included lobbyists, Democratic House interns and Pierre residents.   Twenty-eight people drove in from Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Brookings, Toronto, Canistota, Spearfish and Pierre to attend the Democratic caucuses and the afternoon meeting which was held at View 34.   Organizations that were represented at the afternoon meeting were Equality SD, Transaction SD, Pierre Area Center for Equality, Black Hills Center for Equality, Queer SD, Black Hills State University Democrats, and several allies.

Adoption Guidelines for LGBTQ

Same sex couples can adopt privately from

Same sex couples could apply with Bethany Christian Services or Catholic Services but probably will be denied.    Both of these agencies opposed SB 149 but they stated they still will offer fostering for same sex couples.

Same sex couples may also apply to be foster/adoptive parents through their local South Dakota Department of Social Services office. The program is somewhat intensive but cost effective.

If any same sex couple has been discriminated against and feel their rights are violated they should seek the advice of legal counsel or visit with their local ACLU.

South Dakotas adoption laws are not friendly to the LGBTQ. Reach out to legislators to express how limited this process is for you as a same sex couple.  Before you talk to them, see how they voted on SB 149, which was passed in the 2017 session and allows adoption agencies under state contract to discriminate against LGBTQ families.  Have an honest but respectful conversation.  You can  find your legislators on the LRC website (Who are my Legislators?)