Media Contact

Janna Farley,

April 16, 2021

After Senate lawmakers voted to pass legislation that will prohibit transgender student athletes from playing sports on teams that match their gender identity, the ACLU of North Dakota is urging Gov. Doug Burgum to veto the discriminatory, unconstitutional bill.

House Bill 1298 violates both the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which protects all students – including those who are transgender – from discrimination based on sex.

“House Bill 1298 has never been about leveling the playing field for student athletes,” said Libby Skarin, ACLU of North Dakota campaigns director. “It’s been obvious from the beginning that this discriminatory legislation is about creating a solution to problems that don’t exist. Codifying discrimination like this does nothing but hurt some of the most vulnerable people in our state. North Dakota should be better than this.”

The ACLU of North Dakota issued a letter to Burgum today detailing the reasons to veto House Bill 1298.

  • House Bill 1298 will harm transgender youth.
  • House Bill 1298 violates the Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
  • House Bill 1298 risks the loss of significant amounts of education funding and will result in high litigation costs.

“Transgender students already live and go to school in North Dakota, the play sports and enjoy time with their friends, and they deserve the chance to succeed and thrive like any other student,” Skarin said. “Organizations across the state have warned that this bill could have severe ramifications on workforce recruitment, business relocation, tourism and sports. This bill also opens up the state to costly litigation. Is that what we want for North Dakota? Gov. Burgum needs to veto House Bill 1298.”

The ACLU’s letter to Burgum is below.

About the ACLU of North Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.