South Dakota may become the first state to ban transgender students from the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. A bill that would allow only students of the same biological sex in certain areas, including shower facilities, passed the state Senate Tuesday with a 20-15 vote, following a 58-10 vote in the House. "We're talking about our youths commingling in bathrooms and locker rooms, biological males and biological females," Sen. Brock Greenfield said, per the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. "Do you feel it appropriate for a 13-year-old girl to be exposed to the anatomy of a boy … because of the decisions we make out here?" Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard—who says he's never met a transgender person—has implied support for the bill but plans to do research before deciding whether to make it law.
Students who choose not to use the facilities of their biological sex will be given a "reasonable accommodation"—like use of a single-occupancy restroom—if they say they're transgender and a parent "consents to that assertion in writing," the bill states, per CNN. Rep. Fred Deutsch, who authored the bill, says it's about protecting "the physical privacy of students," but the LGBT community disagrees. "Legislators are saying this will help transgender kids, but the legislation does the exact opposite," a Human Rights Campaign rep says. School districts fear legal ramifications and costs since the bill would likely violate a federal law banning gender discrimination. Last week, South Dakota's House also passed a bill repealing a policy that let transgender students play school sports according to their gender identity, reports the Guardian. (Read more South Dakota stories.)