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South Dakota governor vetoes bathroom gender restriction bill

[JURIST] South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] on Tuesday vetoed [statement] a bill [materials] that would have required public school students to use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their sex at birth. In a statementDaugaard said that the bill would put schools in the "difficult position of following the law while knowing it openly invited federal litigation," and that it "removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate." He also noted that it did not address any pressing issue the state was facing. The bill was passed [JURIST report] last month by the state's senate, with supporters arguing that it would protect the privacy of students. Opponents of the bill argued it would create a separate but equal situation for transgender students, and that the bill was "extreme and dangerous." The bill would have become law at midnight had Daugaard not issued a veto. The Williams Institute [official website] had estimated [text] that the law would have impacted 1,360 South Dakota students who identify as transgender.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been a controversial issue in the US. In December a judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled [JURIST report] that sexual discrimination is prohibited under a law that protects gender-based discrimination. In November President Barack Obama expressed support [JURIST report] for legislation that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity through an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In July 2014 Obama signed an executive order [text] barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity [JURIST report] but, despite pressure, did not include any exemptions for religious organizations. In November 2013 the US Senate approved [JURIST report] the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, by a vote of 64 to 32, but it has made no progress in the House of Representatives.

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