Report: South Dakota receives lowest ranking for LGBTQ equality

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - A new report says South Dakota lacks in basic civil rights protections for LGBTQ residents.

That’s according to the 5th annual State Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign and was released at the end of last month.

“Unfortunately I’m not really surprised that South Dakota was ranked as a state that doesn’t have much opportunity or much of a welcoming point of view for LGBT people," ACLU of South Dakota policy director Libby Skarin said.

South Dakota falls into the last place category "high priority to achieve basic equality" in the 2018 State Equality Index report.

“It was a little disheartening, but I do recognize there's opportunity to grow,” Sioux Falls Pride President Quinn Kathner said. “Anything from getting more LGBTQ leaders within our political influences in South Dakota as well as just making a bigger statement for our housing.”

The annual report takes a look at statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ people and their families and assesses how well states are protecting them from discrimination.

“So far this legislative session we have seen four bills that explicitly and specifically target transgender kids,” Skarin said.

Two of those bills have been defeated, but two are still pending.

Skarin said it is legislation like this that contributes to such a low ranking.

“Unfortunately our state has just not caught up with incorporating LGBT people into the laws and making it a priority that they can live free from discrimination,” Skarin said.

But, this isn’t the first year South Dakota has received this type of ranking.

In fact it’s the fifth year in a row the Mount Rushmore state has fallen into this last place category.

“In my personal experience South Dakota it is up and coming,” Kathner said. “When you have a bigger population in Sioux Falls specifically, you have just more people that are coming in that are more welcoming of the culture and then apart of the LGBTQ community. That’s always nice to see.”

“I think we talk a lot in South Dakota about sort of the values that we all hold dear,” Skarin said. “The idea that we want to be a place that is welcoming, where we take care of our neighbors, and we're not really living up to that ideal if we're not including LGBT people.”

There are four rankings in this report from best to worst.

Minnesota is listed as one of the best states. Iowa ranks in the second best category.

In addition to South Dakota ranking in the lowest category, so did North Dakota and Nebraska.