PIERRE, S.D. (Christian Examiner) – South Dakota soon could become the first state in the nation to limit the use of restrooms at public schools to students of the same biological sex.
The bill, H.B. 1008, passed the state Senate 20-15 on Feb. 20, days after it breezed through the state House, 58-10. Both are controlled by Republicans. It now sits on the desk of , who has listened to both sides of the debate in recent days and has not announced whether or not he will sign it. He has until March 1 to decide.
Daugaard met with a small group of transgender people Tuesday.
"It helped me see things through their eyes a little bit and understand their perspective," Daugaard told the Rapid City Journal, before adding, "Of course, I have my own set of values. They're going to, in the end, drive the decision with the information I have."
The bill targets a controversy that has embroiled school districts from coast to coast, in which students who identify with a different sex than which they were born are given the option of using any bathroom or locker room they choose.
Often that means, for example, boys who identify as a girl dress and shower with girls.
During floor debate, Sen. Brock Greenfield, a Republican, urged his colleagues to consider whether it is right for a 13-year-old to be forced to view the anatomy of someone of the opposite sex. Sen. David Omdahl, another Republican, said it would preserve "the innocence of young people."
The bill says that "every restroom, locker room, and shower room" in a public school "that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex."
It says transgender students should be provided a "reasonable accommodation."
"A reasonable accommodation is one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district. A reasonable accommodation may not include the use of student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex if students of the opposite biological sex are present or could be present," the bill says. "A reasonable accommodation may include a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by faculty. The requirement to provide a reasonable."
The term "biological sex" in the bill is defined as the "physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person's chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth."