Lambda Legal Condemns South Dakota and Mississippi Bills Targeting Trans Youth

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March 11, 2021

Today, Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi signed into law SB 2536, a bill banning transgender youth from participating in sports alongside their peers, and Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota is expected to do the same with House Bill 1217. These two bills are the first among a barrage of state-level legislation specifically targeting transgender youth. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem also signed Senate Bill 124 yesterday, which purports to grant a broad license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others, and to defy public health and other public safety laws, under the pretext of religion.

Senior Attorney and Co-Director of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project, Sasha Buchert, issued the following statement:

“The attacks against transgender youth in South Dakota and Mississippi and other states are abhorrent. Excluding transgender youth from school sports will only exacerbate the bullying and discrimination they already experience in their young lives simply because of who they are.

“The bill signed today by Governor Reeves and the bill being considered by Governor Noem are harmful and dangerous and are a solution in search of a problem. Supporters of this legislation cannot point to a single case in their states to justify the rank discrimination they seek to enshrine. But these bills are not just gratuitous distractions from the multiple, serious crises in these states. They are also the latest in a vicious and unending campaign to strip our communities of their rights and dignity. Having failed to ban us from bathrooms and to deny us equal protection in the workplace, they now have turned to going after transgender children, a new, but sadly unsurprising, low.

“To trans youth in South Dakota, Mississippi and all across the country, trust that there is an entire community of people who celebrate you, stand with you, and believe you deserve to feel safe and respected. Also know that just as Lambda Legal has been fighting for LGBTQ people for almost 50 years, we will keep fighting until every trans youth can fully participate on their team, in their school, and in the world.

“And just like trans girls playing alongside their peers is not a threat to girls’ and women’s sports, LGBTQ civil rights are not a threat to the cherished right of people in this country to practice and express their faith. Civil rights and faith can coexist in harmony, as they have for decades. Efforts to position equal rights for LGBTQ people as some kind of threat to religion are erroneous and untrue, and disrespect both LGBTQ people and the millions of people whose faith compels them to speak out for equality for all.”