PIERRE – The South Dakota High School Activities Association says it is more than willing to let the Legislature take a shot at trying to formulate a policy governing the participation of transgender students.
At its meeting Wednesday, the SDHSAA board heard that Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, is intent on offering legislationto make the policy null and void for many sports the SDHSAA oversees.
In June, the SDHSAA board adopted a policy that allows transgender students to participate in sports based on the sex they chose rather than the sex with which they were born. The policy also called for an expert committee to review each application for transgender status.
In an email to SDHSAA, Bolin, a retired teacher, said, “Please let the board know that my feeling about SDHSAA is that it is an excellent organization that has made a very bad decision with little or no publicity or public input on this question that raises profound issues about the nature of high school sports in our state.”
Bolin’s email explained that his bill would remove SDHSAA from any authority or responsibility for those who claim transgender status.
“That responsibility would fall to the state Legislature and the governor as the bodies most responsible to the people of the state,” Bolin said.
He said the policy adopted in June no longer would apply to high school basketball, cross country, tennis, golf, soccer and track and field. All other sports would continue to be governed by the policy.
SDHSAA executive director Wayne Carney disputed Bolin’s assertion that the board made its decision without publicity or public input. He said the topic first came up at a board goal-setting meeting Aug. 28, 2013, and it was decided the next day to research the topic and report at a later date. The policy was discussed at length at last April’s meeting and adopted in June. The policy returned to the agenda in July when the board adopted an exemption policy.
States are adopting transgender policies, Carney said, because of class-action lawsuits that claim transgender students are treated unfairly.
“What people are looking for is federal case law,” Carney said. “There isn’t any right now.”
Carney said he consulted with the activities association’s lobbyist and concluded that their group would monitor Bolin’s legislation but they would not take a stand on whether or not it should become law.