LETTER: Legislature's gender identity bills chase a nonissue
To the Editor:
Certain South Dakota lawmakers seem intent on attempting to pass legislation that would go against the state activities association policy allowing transgender students to request to play on the athletic team that matches their gender identity.
This bill (Senate Bill 49) and those like it have failed many times over these past few years in Pierre. Even the sponsors of the bill have said that this is not a problem at the moment, but think it will be in the future.
They have cited other states like Connecticut and Texas where individuals with male chromosomes have won state titles in girls' competition. The problem with Connecticut and Texas is that they are not South Dakota. This is not a problem in this state.
The activities association won't give out exact numbers, but they have said the number is less than a handful. I take that to be five students or less.
At the youth level, isn't participation more important than winning? Sports can be a powerful building block during a young person's adolescent years. Don't take that away or make it more complicated than it has to be.
Has there ever been a bill brought up in Pierre that would affect so few people? Is that what we are sending our elected officials to the state capital for? To make sure a handful of students can't play the sports with the gender they identify with?
Bills like these are a solution in search of a problem. Only seven states have restrictions requiring transgender students to participate in athletics according to the sex on their birth certificate. Thirty-six states, including South Dakota, allow them to participate according to gender identity or they look at it on a case-by-base basis.
Instead of singling out the transgender youth, why not try and make them feel more accepted and a part of the community?
Do better, South Dakota. State lawmakers; use your time more wisely. The closed mindedness of a very rural state continues.