PIERRE | A South Dakota Senate panel rejected a bill Friday that would have banned teaching about gender dysphoria in public schools through seventh grade.
People with gender dysphoria suffer discomfort or distress due to the difference between their gender identity and gender at birth. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted against the measure, which passed the House last week.
Republican Rep. Tom Pischke, the measure's sponsor, repeated previous testimony, said his intent was to make sure public schools aren't confusing children and making them more susceptible to dysphoria.
Oliver Dickman, a transgender high school senior in Yankton, told committee members that it made him feel like he's not welcome in South Dakota. He said afterward that the bill's rejection was a "tremendous relief."
Dickman said he feels like he can be proudly who he is in his high school.
"It means that I am welcomed here in South Dakota, and that my Capitol supports me and who I am," Dickman said.
School Administrators of South Dakota executive director Rob Monson said the practice isn't happening in South Dakota schools and the bill wasn't necessary.
Separately, a House panel on Thursday advanced without recommendation a bill taking aim again at an activities association policy that lets transgender students play on the athletic team matching their gender identity.
South Dakota this year has introduced four "anti-trans" bills, more than any other state, Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said last week.
"I think it's really alarming to be seeing these pieces of legislation introduced and considered as if they were serious public policy," Oakley said.