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SD Transgender Rally to Focus on Equality, Education

A gay rights group will rally this weekend in support of South Dakota's transgender community. (Black Hills Center for Equality)
A gay rights group will rally this weekend in support of South Dakota's transgender community. (Black Hills Center for Equality)
February 26, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. - As South Dakota lawmakers consider several bills aimed at transgender issues, advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are set to rally in Rapid City this weekend.

Education, not legislation - that's what the group argues will help change minds regarding transgender people in the state. Pamela Roes, who chairs the Black Hills Center for Equality event committee, said bills such as the one seeking to regulate how transgender students use school bathrooms are causing an unnecessary divide in the state.

"Equality is a South Dakota value," she said. "I don't want my South Dakota to be labeled as a hate state, and unfortunately that's what the nation is seeing."

Sunday's rally in Rapid City will come just days after transgender students and supporters showed up at the South Dakota Capitol to meet with Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The governor also met with supporters of the bathroom legislation.

The center is expecting about 100 people to show up, including several speakers, religious leaders, transgender people and parents. Roes said state lawmakers have been considering at least five bills that negatively target the transgender community.

"The bills are just numbers and letters jumbled together, but these are real people that they're actually affecting," she said. "We really want to show the public that is what is happening."

Daugaard has until Tuesday to sign or veto House Bill 1008, which would restrict transgender students from using school bathrooms that do not match their birth sex.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD