Around the Region: SD’s transgender-inclusive high school policy threatened by lawmakers



South Dakota
Republican Rep. Roger Hunt, who represents the are just north of Sioux Falls, introduced a bill last week that would require school administrators to inspect transgender athlete’s genitals before they can compete in high school athletics, Think Progress reports:

Hunt has stated that he believes gender begins at conception and that only birth certificates and visual inspections should be used to determine a student’s gender identity.
When speaking about trans students being allowed to compete in high school sports, Hunt said,according to the Rapid City Journal, “This is South Dakota. We haven’t adopted the East Coast culture. We haven’t adopted the West Coast culture. We maintain our own culture.”
The legislation is yet another response to the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s decision to make its policies inclusive to trans athletes last year.

Hunt’s unusual bill comes as the South Dakota High School Activities Association considered changes to it’s transgender-inclusive high school athletics policy, the Sun Herald reports:

South Dakota’s high school activities association on Thursday largely maintained its policy allowing transgender student athletes to request to play on the team of their choice, increasing the likelihood Republicans in the statehouse will push legislation to change it.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association Thursday gave preliminary approval to some revisions to the 2014 policy such as establishing an independent hearing officer — rather than a committee — to evaluate applications. But they retained the basic policy of allowing students to request their choice of team. A legislative committee studying the association voted last week to draft a measure to confine students to the team matching the gender on their birth certificates, which could go to the Legislature in the upcoming session.

KELO provides more details about the changes to the policy:

One change is determining exactly who the Independent Hearing Officer would be. This is the person who will look at the transgender student’s application to participate in a sport and decide whether or not they should be allowed to play based on their birth certificate gender or what they identify as. The board decided the IHO should be a licensed attorney.
The second revision lays out how students can appeal the IHO’s decision. Appeals will go to the SDHSAA board of directors.
These slight changes still allow the process to move forward, which excites transgender supporters.
“Having the opportunity for trans youth to be able to participate in sports in a safe space with the sex they identify with is one of the most monumental things that have happened in our community. Especially in South Dakota,” Kendra Heathscott, a transgender woman, said.

The Argus Leader’s Stu Whitley wrote an opinion piece in support of the SDHSAA:

We’ve had female wrestlers in this state, not because of gender identity but because the sports isn’t offered for girls. People grumbled about it and time marched on. Many found it inspiring.
Consider for a moment the inner turmoil and personal pain experienced by those who feel like strangers in their own bodies, then try to make high school sports eligibility seem like a comparatively weighty issue. Somewhere amid that perspective is where positive change resides.
Do you want state officials to “visually inspect” young people to tell them what team they’re on or do you aspire to South Dakota being seen as empathetic, open-minded, proactive, inclusive?
We maintain our own culture, as Mr. Hunt said. Every day we decide what we want it to be.

At the Iowa State Fair, GOP presidential contender Chris Christie rejected the religious liberty argument in LGBT discrimination, Think Progress reports:

“Religious organizations should be protected from having to do anything that violates their religious beliefs as a religious organization. That should be protected,” he explained. “But other businesses who want to do business, they should have to be able to do business under the laws of our country.”

GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz lashed out at actress Ellen Page for confronting hi on LGBT rights at the Iowa State Fair two weeks ago. Cruz called Page an example of “liberal fascism,” the Independent reports.

The Iowa State Daily gave praise to a map of gender-neutral restrooms on campus:

In March, students and professionals involved in the Iowa State LGBT community set out to map all the gender-neutral restrooms on campus in order to ensure the safety and comfort of any transgender, non-binary and non-gender specific students and to hopefully make adjustments to current restrooms.
This is great, but there is no easy way to know where these restrooms are located. Adding online or adding a section to the MyState App that shows the location of these single-stall, family-style restrooms on campus would help make these students feel more comfortable.

Pictures of the child of a Wisconsin legislator went viral after the child confronted anti-LGBT protestors, the Huffington Post reports:

When life gives you bigots, all you need is a bundle of brightly colored balloons and a whole lot of persistence.
Keanan Sargent, the 9-year-old son of Wisconsin state Rep. Melissa Sargent, found himself confronted by homophobia at a pride rally in Madison earlier this month.
Sargent told The Huffington Post she was marching in the parade with her husband and two youngest sons, and the anti-gay protesters gathered at the base of the capitol building. The homophobic signs bore slogans like “gay sex is a sin” and “sodomy is the same as bestiality.”
When her son noticed the signs “were hurting people,” he took a balloon and stood in front of one of them, according to fellow attendee Lars Koch, who took the below photo. When the sign holder tried to move around the solitary balloon, members of the crowd starting handing Keanan their balloons, too.

After legal battles, Wisconsin authorities are allowing same-sex couples to be part of second parent adoptions, WQOW reports:

A Milwaukee same-sex couple has received a Wisconsin birth certificate that recognizes both women as legal guardians of their 1-year-old daughter Olivia. Family members say the letter sent by the State of Wisconsin Vital Records arrived late last week.

“We were just so happy, because it has been kind of a long journey for us,” Milwaukee mother Kami Young says.

Young and her wife Karina Willes were married in December of 2013 in Minnesota. Their daughter was born in March of 2014. Young says after a yearlong wait, both mothers, birth mother Kami Young and marital mother Karina Willes, are now recognized as parents in the eyes of the state.

A transgender inmate is suing the state for not providing her rights in prison, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

A 23-year-old transgender inmate at Wisconsin’s maximum security prison has sued officials there, claiming they’re violating the inmate’s rights by not allowing her to live as a woman.
Dominique Gulley, also known as Teriyaki Ariana Daniels-Wilds, describes herself as from several ethnic backgrounds and having identified as female since she was 8.
Gulley was 15 when she struck and seriously injured a Dane County sheriff’s deputy while driving a stolen car in 2008. After she stole another car in 2010, her probation was revoked and she was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The injured deputy later sued the juvenile group home where Gulley was living in 2008 when she stole the car that hit the deputy. The case was settled.

North Dakota
LGBT Pride returned to Grand Forks over the weekend, the Grand Forks Herald reports:

Rainbow flags and banners flew high and wide this weekend with the return of Grand Forks Pride after a years-long hiatus.
After a drag show Friday night, a few dozen vendors set up on the Grand Forks side of the Greenway Saturday, including a number of businesses as well as religious and nonprofit organizations. Saturday’s schedule also included a free movie, a presentation from a transgender pastor and a comedian at the Empire Arts Center.

North Dakota will repay attorney fees that same-sex couples and their attorneys incurred fighting the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The expenses amount to $58,000, the Associated Press reports.

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


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