Politics & Policy

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to Sign Bill Restricting Girls Sports to Females

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla., February 27, 2021. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said Monday she would sign a bill restricting girls’ teams and sports at public schools to students who are biologically female after the measure passed the state senate in a 20-15 vote.

“In South Dakota, we’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay by defending women’s sports! I’m excited to sign this bill very soon,” Noem wrote in a tweet. 

A spokesman for the governor told Fox News that they expected South Dakota “will be the first state this year to pass legislation of this sort.” However, the Mississippi House passed a bill 81-28 earlier this month to prohibit transgender athletes from competing on girls’ and women’s sports teams. 

The ACLU of South Dakota has criticized the Women’s Fairness in Sports bill, which was introduced by State Representative Rhonda Milstead and passed the South Dakota House last month 50-17, according to KOTA TV.

An ACLU advocacy manager, Jett Jonelis, testified against the bill: “In an attempt to ‘level the playing field,’ House Bill 1217 excludes an entire group of women and girls from meaningful participation in sports,” Jonelis said.

“House Bill 1217 isn’t about protecting fairness in women’s sports,” he said. “It’s about erasing and excluding trans people from participation in all aspects of public life.”

President Biden issued an executive order in January calling for schools nationwide to allow students to participate on sports teams that align with their chosen gender identity.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the order last month after a reporter asked what the president’s message was to school officials handling disagreements over transgender and cisgender girls competing against each other, especially for college scholarships.

White House Press Secretary Psaki said that “the president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights.”

“And that’s why he signed that executive order,” she said. “And in terms of the determinations by universities and colleges, I would certainly defer to them.”

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