South Dakota appeared to be on track to become the first state to pass legislation that would prevent transgender public school students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity. But thanks to the governor’s veto, HB 1008 won’t become law.
Republican governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed the bill yesterday (March 1). CNN reports that Daugaard said the bill "does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota."
"This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on ‘every restroom, locker room and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school,’" he added. "It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate."
The bill passed in the state house in January and the state senate in February. Daugaard had until midnight on Tuesday to issue his decision. Had he stalled, the bill would have become law.
Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi, who previously said that the law would "endanger students and open up South Dakota schools to legal chaos, liability and the loss of millions in federal funds,"commended the veto. "Governor Daugaard made the right call in vetoing this dangerous legislation, sparing South Dakota the risky and costly experiment of becoming the first state to mandate discrimination against transgender youth in violation of federal law and student privacy and well-being," said Hayashi.
Gawker points out that, given Daugaard’s previous opposition to marriage equality and pro-choice measures, the governor’s veto may have been a way to prevent legal conflict with the federal government over public school funding.