There are currently no explicit statewide non-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people in South Dakota.
State and national advocates are working toward furthering the conversation of why non-discrimination protections matter in South Dakota.
During the 2016 legislative session, lawmakers introduced and passed House Bill 1008, invasive legislation that would have irreparably harmed transgender children in the state. The bill singled out transgender students for discrimination by prohibiting them from using the restroom that matches the gender they live as everyday. If it had passed, it would have been the first law of its kind anywhere in the United States. However, in March South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, swayed by heartfelt testimony from South Dakota’s schoolchildren, vetoed HB 1008, and his veto was sustained by the legislature.
History of Non-Discrimination Protections:
- 1972: The South Dakota Legislature passes the South Dakota Human Relations Act of 1972, which protects South Dakotans from employment discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, or sex. Soon after, the South Dakota Division of Human Relationships is established to enforce the law, and discrimination in housing and public accommodations becomes prohibited.
- 1972-2010: Local and national organizations engage in conversations about who LGBT South Dakotans are, and support for fully comprehensive non-discrimination grows.
- April 28, 2009: Shannon County, South Dakota updates a local ordinance protecting LGBT government employees from employment discrimination, joining similar ordinances that protect from government employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in several other counties and cities. The local ordinances build momentum toward statewide legislation.
- February 2010: For the first time, South Dakota legislators introduce legislation aimed at adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination laws. Although the bill does not pass, its introduction signals momentum for future fights.
- February 16, 2016: House Bill 1008, which would force transgender students to use bathrooms that do not match the gender they live every day, passes the South Dakota Senate, following previous passage in the House. Advocates across the state and around the country, led by the ACLU of South Dakota, urge Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto the legislation.
- March 2, 2016: Governor Daugaard, a Republican, vetoes House Bill 1008. The Governor’s veto of the bill is sustained by the legislature, by a vote of 36-29.
Municipalities with Non-Discrimination Protections
The following municipalities protect city employees from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation:
- Minnehaha County
- Sioux Falls
The following municipalities protect city employees from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity:
- Shannon County
Last Updated December 21, 2016