PIERRE, South Dakota (LifeSiteNews) – South Dakota became the first state to prohibit biological males from women’s and girls’ sports in 2022 with a law signed this evening by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.
“This bill has been an important priority for a lot of the people behind me,” Noem said at a signing ceremony Thursday, “and I appreciate all of their hard work in making sure that girls will always have the opportunity to play in girls’ sports in South Dakota and have an opportunity for a level playing field.”
The South Dakota House passed SB 46 in a 50-17 vote Tuesday, sending it to the governor’s desk. The bill requires public K-12 schools and colleges to designate sports according to biological sex and bans gender-confused males from competing against female athletes.
“Only female students, based on their biological sex, may participate in any team, sport, or athletic event designated as being for females, women, or girls,” the bill states. Students must verify their sex with a birth certificate issued at or near the time of their birth.
SB 46 allows students to bring civil lawsuits against schools or athletic associations for “direct or indirect harm” due to violations of the bill and bars retaliation against students for reporting violations. The measure also lets schools sue any government entities that take adverse actions against them for refusing to let gender-confused athletes compete based on their “gender identity.”
The state Senate approved SB 46 last month with a 26-7 vote. Gov. Noem introduced the bill in December.
The proposal came after conservatives slammed Noem last year for vetoing another sports bill, HB 1217, which she had pledged to sign before reversing herself amid activist and corporate pressure. The governor later issued two executive orders purporting to block men from women’s K-12 and college sports that pro-family groups criticized as largely symbolic.
“They don’t have a cause of actions for students to sue, don’t have a provision barring action against the schools, and only require an affidavit from schools – not a yearly certification [of biological sex],” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said about the orders at the time.
HB 1217 would have allowed students to sue schools for monetary damages as a result of “psychological, emotional, and physical harm” caused by having to compete with someone of the opposite sex. SB 46 does not have a similar provision.
The enactment of SB 46 makes South Dakota the 10th state to codify a statutory ban on “transgender” biological males in women’s and girls’ sports. Governors in eight states, including Alabama, West Virginia, and Florida, signed similar bills in 2021. Idaho enacted one in 2020.
Lawmakers in several other Republican-led states introduced legislation this year to protect sports fairness, including Indiana, where the GOP-controlled state House approved a sports bill last month.
The issue has sparked national outrage in recent years as males who identify as “transgender,” backed by pro-LGBT athletic associations like the NCAA, have taken dozens of championship titles in women’s sports across the country. Men significantly outpace females in athletic competitions due to inborn physical advantages, regardless of transgender hormone drugs, according to recent studies.
Keeping bathrooms single-sex
The South Dakota House on Tuesday also passed a bill, HB 1005, to prevent students from using bathrooms or other private spaces for members of the opposite sex.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch, said that he introduced HB 1005 in response to a recent policy in the school district of Vermillion, South Dakota that allows gender-confused boys to enter girls’ bathrooms. Deutsch said that he had received “dozens and dozens and dozens of phone calls from the Vermillion school district” requesting the bill.
House lawmakers cleared HB 1005 with a 38-29 vote, sending it to the state Senate. Twenty-two Republicans voted against the bill, and two did not vote.