South Dakota Drops Bid to Ban Teaching Gender Identity in Schools

South Dakotoa Republican State Sen. Phil Jensen (Photo: Facebook)

A South Dakota lawmaker’s plan to ban public schools from teaching about gender identity was shelved on Thursday.

Senate Bill 160 would have prevented South Dakota elementary and middle schools from teaching students about gender identity and gender expression. According to the Associated Press, Republican State Sen. Phil Jensen said he decided to remove all language concerning transgender issues and gender identity after realizing “there were issues he hadn’t thought of with his original idea.”

“It wasn’t a hoax,” Jensen said. “It wasn’t until basically yesterday that I decided that I needed to go a different direction.”

A Senate panel ended up killing the reshaped bill, which also dealt with allowing standardized tests to be administered in paper or computerized form.

SB 160 was one of 3 measures that were either scrapped or defeated in South Dakota this week. Senate Bill 202, of which Jensen was also a sponsor, proposed that public restrooms would have to post a sign warning that a person of the opposite sex may be using the facility if transgender people were allowed to use it. In a unanimous vote, the Senate State Affairs Committee deferred the bill to the 41st legislative day, which effectively tables it.

On Monday, HB 1296 was defeated by a vote of 11-1. The bill would have required school boards to develop and publish policies regarding where transgender students will be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms.

Just last year, a bill was passed in both the South Dakota House and Senate that would have prevented transgender students from using school facilities consistent with their gender identity. The bill was ultimately vetoed by Governor Dennis Daugaard, who had soured on the measure after actually meeting some transgender students.

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