PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota lawmaker is arguing that debate over transgender rights will likely continue and that it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case regarding transgender bathroom use.
Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch spoke to the Argus Leader after the high court declined to take up a challenge to a Pennsylvania school’s policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
Deutsch sponsored a 2016 bill that sought to limit the bathrooms and locker rooms that South Dakota’s transgender students can use. It passed the Legislature, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Deutsch said “everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,“ but that students also need privacy from the opposite sex when using a restroom or locker room.
He expects state lawmakers to continue grappling with the issue.
The Supreme Court this week rejected an appeal from students in Pennsylvania’s Boyertown School District, about 45 miles northwest of Philadelphia, who argued that allowing transgender students to use the same facilities violated their privacy rights. The students are represented by conservative Christian law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom.
Libby Skarin, policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, called the high court’s decision “a huge victory“ for transgender students. Skarin said the ruling sends a message to South Dakota’s transgender students that “they deserve protection“ and that courts understand they deserve to be treated as equals to their peers.
“My hope would be that we don’t see any discriminatory legislation in the future,“ Skarin said. “It’s been five long years of legislation that targets transgender kids, and I hope that perhaps this case could be the end of that.“