“House Bill 1008 does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota,” Governor Dennis Daugaard said of the controversial measure that had been denounced by rights groups.
Daugaard said that rather than having the state interfere, it was best to let local school districts decide on such issues on a case-by-case basis.
“If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them,” he said.
“Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.”
The bill had been passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in South Dakota and came amid backlash against a stream of legislative and legal victories for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.
In a landmark June ruling, the US Supreme Court overturned same-sex marriage bans, and 17 states have enacted laws to protect students from bullying or harassment based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill would have restricted access to bathrooms and locker rooms in all public schools to students of the “same biological sex.”
The restrictions would have extended beyond the schools to include any off-campus events like a sports tournament that may involve “being in a state of undress in the presence of other students.”
The bill sought to evade federal law prohibiting discrimination in schools by offering “reasonable accommodation” to transgendered students such as allowing them to use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for single-occupancy or faculty use.
Opponents had warned that the bill would have set a dangerous precedent and further marginalized transgender students.