South Dakota
Republican lawmakers in South Dakota have introduced legislation aimed at preventing gender identity and transgender issues from being discussed in the state’s schools, the Argus Leader reports:

South Dakota lawmakers are set to consider what students should be taught about gender identity and whether schools should write and make public their transgender bathroom policies.
The bills come two years after Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed a proposal to bar transgender students from using bathrooms that don’t match their biological sex at birth.
The proposals are aimed at freeing up time to teach other subjects and ensuring transparency about policies related to bathroom use, the bills’ sponsor said.
Opponents, meanwhile, said the measures singled out transgender students for discrimination and posed problems for all students in understanding gender identity.
The first proposal, Senate Bill 160, would outlaw teaching gender identity or gender expression to public school students in grades seven and below.
Sen. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, brought the proposal because he felt state test scores in math and English were falling and felt more time could be spent in those areas rather than on gender identity.

Iowa
Iowa Republicans have introduced legislation to ban transgender people from using restrooms, We Are Iowa reports:

A group of Iowa House Republicans submitted a bill on Wednesday that with transgender Iowans and the access they have to bathrooms.
House File 2164, if passed, would allow businesses and schools to preserve the men’s and women’s bathrooms to their respective genders. Right now, the Iowa Civil Rights Act allows transgender Iowans to not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

KCCI has more:

A controversial new bill that would limit the access transgender people have to restrooms in schools and businesses has been introduced at the Statehouse.

Former President Barack Obama issued federal guidelines telling public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, but President Donald Trump said states should decide.
About a dozen House Republicans, including state Rep. Sandy Salmon of Janesville, support the bill, saying it protects women, children and students by “preserving access to bathrooms based on biological sex.”
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The bill’s sponsor said it’s an issue of safety, but those in the transgender community claim it’s a form of discrimination.
Kennan Crow, with One Iowa Action, said there has not been an uptick in public safety incidents in restrooms. “It seems rather than increase safety, we’re targeting individuals based on who they are, and that’s not fair.”

The Des Moines Register looks at the odds of the bill passing:

Iowa House Republicans introduced a bill Wednesday that would protect schools and businesses that choose to limit transgender people’s access to restrooms.
House File 2164 seeks to rewrite portions of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which grants transgender Iowans legal protections against discrimination in education, employment, housing and other public accommodations based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gender identity refers to the gender with which a person identifies internally, while sex is biologically assigned at birth. Transgender Iowans may choose to transition their external appearance so that it aligns with their gender identity.
“What the bill just says is that schools and businesses are allowed to take action to protect women and girls by preserving access (to toilet facilities and locker rooms) based on biological sex,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville.
The legislation is supported by a dozen House Republicans as well as Christian conservative organization The Family Leader. But a key committee chairman said the issue is unlikely to survive a looming legislative deadline.
“We’ve got several hundred bills assigned to Judiciary, and we’re going to be looking at all of them,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, noting that he has limited time to advance legislation out of his committee. “At this point, I don’t see that (bill) being in the top tier.”

LGBTQ Day on the Hill was last week, WHO-TV reports:

Iowans gathered at the Statehouse on Tuesday as One Iowa hosted its annual LGBTQ Day on the Hill.
Activists lobbied against conversion therapy and for expanding protection against hate crimes. The day is very important to people like Sophia Stone.
“This is my community, this is my family, and I am going to fight as hard as I possibly can for them,” she said.
Stone demonstrated support by lobbying against conversion therapy, which has already been banned by the American Medical Association.
“It creates such psychological trauma to go through conversion therapy to be told and forced to be somebody who you aren’t,” Stone said.
Conversion therapy is among other legislative priorities like the Iowa Civil Rights Act, school vouchers/school choice, and hate crime protection.
“We’re also lobbying for the addition of gender identity to the Iowa Hate Crimes Code. We know that transgender people and especially transgender pepole of color face violence and murder at higher rates than everybody else in the nation, so we want to make sure that transgender Iowans are safe and secure,” Democratic Representative Liz Bennett said.

Wisconsin
Republicans in Wisconsin have introduced a bill to ban nondiscrimination ordinances that are more expansive than the state’s, the Badger Herald reports:

A Republican-backed bill that would standardize employment laws across the state would also prohibit local municipalities from creating their own discrimination laws and protecting their workers.
Though this bill attempts to make it easier for companies to do business in Wisconsin, in Madison it would mean less protection for employees, Alyssa Riphon, investigator and conciliator for the city of Madison, said.
“The city of Madison has its own discrimination law, which has been in effect for almost 55 years,” Riphon said. “It is one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the country and has 28 protected classes. Employment is one of three sections of this law. But we receive the most discrimination complaints in the area of employment and this legislation would essentially gut the employment section of the ordinance.”
Additionally, the bill would eliminate 12 protected classes in the city of Madison.
These classes are certain demographics that tend to experience discrimination and have been protected in the workplace so far. They include gender identity, nonreligion, homelessness, source of income, social security number, physical appearance, political beliefs, student status, domestic partners, citizenship, unemployment status and credit history, Riphon said.

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Andy Birkey
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, Vita.mn 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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