February 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
South Dakota governor to meet with trans students

Dennis Daugaard, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.) (Photo public domain)

After initial reports South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard had rebuffed a request to meet with transgender students, a spokesperson for him on Wednesday said he would in fact hold such a discussion as legislation seen to discriminate against transgender students heads to his desk. The news was first reported by the South Dakota newspaper The Argus Leader.

Kelsey Pritchard, a Daugaard spokesperson, confirmed to the Washington Blade that meeting would take place and the governor’s staff is working on a time for the discussion, which was requested by the South Dakota LGBT group the Center for Equality. The meeting could take place as early as Thursday, Pritchard said.

The meeting is planned as legislation approved this week by the GOP-controlled state legislature, HB 1008, heads to the governor’s desk. The bill, approved in the Senate by a 20-15 vote and the House by a 58-10 vote, would prohibit transgender students from using the public restrooms in schools consistent with their gender identity.

In addition to meeting with transgender students, Pritchard said Daugaard, a Republican, also plans on meeting with lawmakers who sponsored the bill in the legislature.

Daugaard’s office makes plans for the meeting after the governor said in a news conference he hasn’t made a decision on whether he supportd HB 1008 and has never met a transgender person.

It wasn’t clear whether the meetings signal Daugaard plans on vetoing the legislation. Pritchard said it indicates he wants to hear both sides and said he still hasn’t taken a position on the bill.

If Daugaard signs the legislation, South Dakota would become the first state in the nation to enact a “papers to pee” law for transgender students.

The governor was expected to officially receive the bill Thursday. He must either sign or veto the bill within five business days of transmittal, or else it becomes law without his signature in a procedure known as “pocket pass.”

Alternatively, if he were inclined to veto it but didn’t want to take that step publicly, Daugaard could ask the legislature to go back and work on it. According to a source familiar with the South Dakota legislative process, that process occurred only once last year.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised Daugaard in a statement for his willingness to meet with transgender students, saying a veto of the bill should follow.

“Knowledge is power, and we hope that by learning about their experiences, the daily challenges they face, and the damage this bill will inflict on their lives, Gov. Daugaard will show true leadership and reject this measure,” Griffin said. “History has never looked kindly upon those who attack the basic civil rights of their fellow Americans, and history will not treat kindly those who support this discriminatory measure.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • sJames6621

    now that the gay marriage biz is more or less finished except for some recalccitrants, trans people are the next target of ignorance and hate by the repubs, as they pander to their biggest voting base – the old southern confederacy where the only thing that changes is which minority group is hated

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