Flickr: Ted Eytan
Flickr: Ted Eytan

In a major blow to LGBTQ+ rights, South Dakota has passed an archaic bill banning trans girls and women from school sports.

According to a report from the Argus Leader, the state’s Senate passed Gov. Kristi Noem’s transphobic bill on 19 January.

After nearly an hour of deliberation, officials voted in favour of SB 46 by a 26-7 vote – with two senators excused.

The anti-LGBTQ+ decision makes the South Dakota Senate the first US chamber to pass an anti-trans law in 2022.

Under the legislation, trans girls and women would be effectively banned from playing sports at their local schools.

The Senate also passed an amendment that grants students the right to sue a school, activities association or sports organisation for violating the horrific law.

Since the bill’s passing, Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley released a statement slamming the bill.

“South Dakota’s legislature has been an innovator in discrimination against transgender people, and SB 46 continues this shameful legacy by being the very first anti-trans bill passed by a legislative chamber this year,” she said.

“The South Dakota legislature has been rehashing the same conversation about trans youth participation in school sports for years and yet there still is no evidence that transgender youth participating in school sports has posed an actual problem.

“These bills don’t protect or empower girls and women – rather, they perpetuate sexist stereotypes and try to turn teammates against each other. It is time for South Dakota to let kids be kids.”

SB 46 isn’t the only piece of anti-trans legislation that has been introduced by South Dakota lawmakers.

Last year, Gov. Noem supported a similar bill to SB-46, which banned trans athletes from competing in sports.

However, the conservative governor vetoed the bill after claiming it would bring in lawsuits from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

At the start of 2022, state lawmakers introduced House Bill 1005, which bans transgender youth from using shared school facilities that align with their gender identity.

The legislation also grants students a “private cause of action” against the school district if they encounter a transgender student in these multi-occupancy places.

The SB 46 bill is now on its way to the Republican-led House committee. The legislation will then head to the House floor for further deliberation.