SD Rep. Quotes MLK Jr. in Vote to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Youth

  • South Dakota is seeking to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth. 
  • A state representative quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. while qualifying her vote to the chamber.
  • The quote had nothing to do with gender-affirming care.

On the second day of Black History Month, South Dakota State Representative used a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote without context to support a bill that would restrict health care for trans youth.

“I do support this bill and I think it is necessary in this time and place we live and in the time and place in history that we are in. And as other issues from the East Coast and West Coast crawl into our state, I think this is a good piece of legislation to protect our children,” Rep. Brandei Schaefbauer said Thursday.

Schaefbauer is a Republican representing the state’s third district.

She then went on to quote Dr. King’s 1966 speech at Illinois Wesleyan University where he pushed for racial equality. He argued that the solution doesn’t come with time, but with legislation. 

The portion Schaefbauer quoted is as follows: “It may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also. So while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men. And when you change the habits of men, pretty soon the attitudes and the hearts will be changed. And so there is a need for strong legislation constantly to grapple with the problems we face.”

After quoting the speech and joining a long list of Republicans who have quoted MLK while advocating for issues that marginalize people of color and/or the LGBTQ community, Schaefbauer added, “And as we look around our nation, this is a problem we will be facing in South Dakota. So I believe this bill will protect our children into the future.”

The bill, House Bill 1080, would prevent transgender youth from access to gender-affirming care. South Dakota is a notably conservative state.

Last year, South Dakota limited the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools by restricting “inherently divisive concepts” such as discussing how a person can be “racist, sexist or oppressive,” CNN reported

Schaefbauer did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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