South Dakota governor to decide on transgender bathroom bill

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 01, 2016 5:22 PM

(Reuters) - South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard on Tuesday must veto or sign a bill that would make his the first U.S. state to dictate what bathrooms transgender students are allowed to use in public schools.

If he takes no action by the midnight deadline on Tuesday night, the bill will become law without his signature. His office was not immediately available for comment on when he was to sign or veto the bill.

The bill requires transgender pupils to use restrooms and locker rooms in public schools that correspond to their gender at birth and not the gender that fits their current identity.

The bill also requires schools to provide "reasonable" accommodations for transgender students. Those accommodations include a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room or shower room.

Civil rights groups have decried the bill.

"The legislation is not only wrong and puts kids at risk, it would require educational institutions to pay the costs of inevitable resulting legal challenges," the Human Rights Campaign said on its website before Daugaard's action.

The group said that schools could face legal challenges over access to restrooms, saying the law would violate Title IX, a federal rule regarding discrimination in public schools.

In December, a suburban Chicago school district reached an accord with the U.S. government over locker room access for a transgender student after the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights found the district discriminated against the student in violation of Title IX.

Daugaard met last week with transgender people who urged him to veto the bill.

The deadline for Daugaard comes about a month after a U.S. appeals court heard arguments over whether a high school in Virginia should be ordered to allow a transgender male student to use the boys' bathroom.

Last week, local lawmakers in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted to allow transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their gender identity. State House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, said he would consider legislation to block the measure.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Fiona Ortiz and Dan Grebler)