South Dakota gov pushes changes to transgender sports ban Sioux Falls Republican Kristi Noem Legislature Senate

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South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday suggested language changes in a bill to ban transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ or women’s sports leagues to limit the ban to high school and elementary schools, excluding college sports from the proposal.

The Republican governor had initially tweeted she was “excited to sign” the bill after it passed the Legislature but sent the bill back to lawmakers with suggestions to change its language. The governor’s move, known as a style and form veto, amounted to a setback for the bill, but still kept it alive. A majority of both chambers of the Legislature can approve it on March 29.

Noem’s proposal would limit the ban to high school and elementary sports and exclude collegiate athletics. Opponents to the bill had warned that it would cause the state to lose out on millions of dollars from the NCAA if it pulls out of sports tournaments, though it was not clear if Noem’s proposed changes would ultimately deter that.

“I am also concerned that the approach House Bill 1217 takes is unrealistic in the context of collegiate athletics,” Noem said in a letter sent to lawmakers.

Legislatures in more than 20 states have proposed restrictions on athletics or gender transition surgeries for transgender minors this year. But Noem’s reversal showed that even in conservative states with an appetite for enacting laws that discriminate against transgender people, Republican lawmakers are weighing the financial fallout. The Republican governor of only one state — Mississippi’s Tate Reeves — has signed such a ban into law.

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