(Headline USA) Republicans on a South Dakota Senate committee Tuesday rejected a bill that would have banned transgender students from using school restrooms that match their preferred gender identity.
The vote flies in the face of leftists in the media who have sought to push the narrative that Republicans are bigoted for opposing radical new measures that confer transgender rights at the detriment of those concerning privacy, safety and gender equity, among other things.
All but one senator on the state’s seven-member Senate Judiciary committee, comprising only Republicans, voted to reject the bill—arguing that determining trans students’ bathroom access was a policy best left to local school boards.
“I ran for the South Dakota Senate not a school board,” said Republican Sen. Michael Rohl, arguing against the Legislature’s stepping into the issue.
The hearing was a continuation of a school board debate in Vermillion after the district in November established a policy that allows students to use restrooms that correspond with their “consistently asserted gender.”
For parents of trans students, such as Mike Phelan, the Vermillion policy was a relief.
He told the Senate committee that it allowed his daughter—born a son—to fit in among peers rather than face awkward situations each time a bathroom trip was necessary.
The younger Phelan had avoided eating and drinking water to avoid having to use school bathrooms.
“She eats and drinks normally and she is happy when I pick her up,” he said of the new policy. “In her own words: ‘This made me feel like I really belong in school.’”
The bill’s proponents argued that the new policy would endanger students, creating an excuse for sexual predators to enter school bathrooms.
Such was the case in Virginia, when a male student wearing a skirt entered into a Loudoun County bathroom and sexually assaulted a female student, then did it again after being transferred to a different school.
Even so, trans activists dismissed the worries as scaremongering.
“This policy has nothing to do with sexual abuse or giving access to predators,” claimed Shane Nordyke, a member of the Vermillion school board, adding that those who make such arguments “are either misinformed or disingenuous.”
Transgender issues—including access to school sports, bathrooms or sex-change surgeries for children—have become perennial topics in the Legislature.
Gov. Kristi Noem last week signed a bill to bar trans females from playing on sports teams that are inconsistent with their birth sex.
“Biology matters,” said Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch, who sponsored the bill. “Boys are boys, and girls are girls and it’s impossible to change, physiologically impossible.”
The committee’s rejection was a major setback for the bathroom proposal, but it could still be revived with support from one-third of the Senate.
Republican Sen. Marsha Symens, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said she would assess what kind of support the bill may have left.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press