Dozens of Conservative Groups Ask Gov. Noem to Support Legislation that ‘Protects All Women’

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was given the Moms of America's Mothers of Influence award on Sunday in Washington, D.C. (Penny Starr/Breitbart News)
Penny Starr/Breitbart News

Dozens of conservative groups are asking South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) to support legislation that “protects all women — kindergarten to college — and provides them with a legal remedy when their rights are violated,” noting in a Monday letter that the Republican governor can join their coalition to defend Title IX by “supporting legislation like HB 1217 as originally passed.”

While @govkristinoem has announced she intends to form a ‘coalition to defend Title IX,’ today’s letter says its signers are already part of such a coalition — and she can join by supporting legislation like HB 1217 as originally passed,” the Family Policy Alliance said on social media, previewing the letter presented as an open invitation to the governor. Noem has come under tremendous fire after returning a bill — aimed to prevent biological males from competing in women’s sports — back to her state legislature for changes:

As Breitbart News reported, the changes include “removing collegiate athletics from the bill, thereby limiting its application to K-12 athletics, and modifying language about civil liability and performance-enhancing drugs.” Noem defended her decision amid the backlash, noting that she had “become concerned that this bill’s vague and overly broad language could have significant unintended consequences”:

Noem argued the bill would cause collegiate athletics in her state to suffer because the “national governing bodies” — most notably the National Collegiate Athletic Association — would require compliance with their organizations’ policies that conflict with those of House Bill 1217. “South Dakota has shown that our student athletes can compete with anyone in the country,” Noem wrote, “but competing on the national stage means compliance with the national governing bodies that oversee collegiate athletics.”

“While I certainly do not always agree with the actions these sanctioning bodies take, I understand that collegiate athletics requires such a system — a fifty-state patchwork is not workable,” she added.

“You recently announced your intent to form a ‘coalition to defend Title IX’ in conjunction with your surprising decision to use a ‘style-and-form veto’ on HB 1217, a bill that would ensure South Dakotan K12 and collegiate female athletes have a level playing field in their sports and that they have recourse against unfair policies that force them to compete against biological males,” the groups said in the open letter, explaining that they are “already part of a large coalition defending female athletes across the country.”

“And we are inviting you to join with us by supporting legislation that protects all women — kindergarten to college — and provides them with a legal remedy when their rights are violated, as HB 1217 does,” they wrote.

The letter reads in part:

The South Dakota legislature got it right with HB 1217, and your original excitement to sign it was on the mark. They passed a strong bill that stands with your state’s female athletes, no matter their level of competition, and provides them a legal remedy when their rights are violated. We stand behind these legislators and South Dakota’s female athletes. Gutting the bill doesn’t help anyone win — it sends South Dakota and their girls and women back to the sidelines and sends the wrong signal to others across the country in the fight to save girls’ and women’s sports.

HB 1217 as passed protects all female athletes in South Dakota, not just those in high school or middle school. Your version of the bill would hand South Dakota’s collegiate female athletes — and a say in your state’s governance — to the NCAA on a silver platter. Why should collegiate females face injustice for achieving the honor of college-level competition?

HB 1217 as passed gives South Dakota’s female athletes the power to take action if a school district or other entity ignores the law by permitting men in their competitions. Importantly, the bill allows these women, or their parents, to enforce their rights to a level playing field. Absent such enforcement, the bill becomes a feel-good statement with no real teeth. You’ve said you want to win, and we do, too. More importantly, South Dakota’s female athletes also want the opportunity to win — no matter at what level of competition. This is why our coalition stands unapologetically behind these girls and women and won’t back down to pressure from the NCAA. The NCAA itself doesn’t require its member schools to allow biological males who identify as female on female teams. But even if it did have such a policy, we’d still rather stand proudly with female athletes than those who stand to profit off of them.

“So, we invite you, Governor Noem, to join our coalition on behalf of South Dakota’s — and the nation’s — female athletes who are counting on you to support legislation like HB 1217 as passed by the legislature,” they added.

Signees include leaders of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Eagle Forum, Family Policy Alliance, Women’s Liberation Front, Heritage Action for America, Florida Family Policy Council, and more.

Noem has continued to defend her decision, urging people to look at her “history” on the issue.

“I understand getting into a fight, but I don’t want to fight just to fight,” she said during an appearance on Fox & Friends last week.

“I want to fight to win. And I want to make sure that we really do push the NCAA down, we push big businesses down, and we really end up with a victory that allows us to really make sure only girls play in girls’ sports,” she added.

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