SD Gov. Meets with Transgender Students Ahead of Decision on Law Designating School Bathrooms by Biological Sex

By Penny Starr | February 23, 2016 | 2:58 PM EST

In this Jan. 29, 2016 photo, Thomas Lewis, an 18-year-old transgender student at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, S.D., speaks during a press conference in Sioux Falls against legislation that groups have said would discriminate against transgender people. (Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader via AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Earlier this month, the South Dakota State Senate passed a bill already approved by the House that would reserve public school bathrooms for boys and girls based on their biological sex, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard has not yet decided whether to sign the bill into law or reject it.

Following protests from homosexual advocates – including a tweet from Caitlyn Jenner urging him to veto the bill – the Republican governor met with transgender students at an undisclosed time and location on Tuesday.

Daugaard’s spokeswoman Kelsey Pritchard confirmed the governor’s meeting to CNSNews.com and said he would make a decision on the bill by next Tuesday.

If approved by the governor, the law would bar transgender students from using bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that don't correspond with their biological sex.

Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill's author, has said the measure is designed to ensure the privacy of transgender and non-transgender students in the most private areas in schools, according to the Argus Leader.

Deutsch said the federal government has overstepped its authority in drafting Title IX regulations that require school districts to accommodate transgender students and that these students should receive "reasonable accommodations” by using single-use restrooms or staff-designated bathrooms, locker rooms or showers but not co-mingling with members of the opposite sex in these settings.

Meanwhile, critics of the bill call it “harmful legislation,” according to a January article in Education Week.

“The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota and the Human Rights Campaign, groups that oppose the measure, say South Dakota would be the first state to pass such a law,” Education Week reported.

"This bill creates a hostile and toxic climate in South Dakota's education system for children who are transgender," Matt McTighe, executive director of national LGBT-rights group Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement. "With this and other harmful legislation pending, South Dakota legislators seem determined to make sure the state is an unwelcoming place for LGBT people to live and work."

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