The Ohio House of Representatives passed a controversial bill that would prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming care to trans youth and prevents trans athletes from participating in Ohio women’s sports.
Wednesday’s 64-28 vote comes a week after House Bill 6, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act”, was added to House Bill 68, also known as the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE Act),” through a substitute bill. State Reps. Jamie Callender, R- Concord, and Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, were the only Republicans present to vote against the bill.
HB 68 now moves to the Senate for committee consideration.
HB 6, introduced by State Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, was voted out of the House Higher Education Committee in May, but has not been taken to the House floor for a full vote.
“Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is a discriminatory policy that turns back the clock over a half century on advances we have made for women,” Powell said. “Women deserve the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.”
Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, introduced HB 68, which would prevent doctors from giving puberty blockers and hormone therapy to trans youth. It would also ban physicians from performing gender reassignment surgery on a minor, but many opponents have testified that no Ohio children’s hospital currently performs gender-affirming surgery on those under 18.
“We are talking about medical ethics,” he said. “We know that children can’t provide informed consent. They don’t have that capacity.”
Both sides of the aisles debated the bill for about an hour taking a vote.
State Rep. Anita Somani, D-Dublin, asked, “Do the sponsors of this bill have an obsession with teenage genitals?”
“Passing this law will create confusion, will decrease the amount of medical providers in the state and create chaos for families and for physicians that are staying here,” Somani, an OB/GYN herself, said.
State Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, argued in support of the bill.
“When you put a transgender women into the equation, we are at a disadvantage,” Schmidt said.
Earlier this week, a federal judge struck down Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.
Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said he’s not worried about that happening in Ohio.
“It’s very important that we do everything we can – when we have a bill that the people feel so strongly about on either side – that we have it legally tight and we’ve done it in a way that will survive legal scrutiny,” he said.
When asked about HB 6 being folded into HB 68, Stephens said they were similar but different issues.
“(There was) relatively the same points of debate and points of contention,” Stephens said. “I thought it made sense to have that debate once on the floor.”
House Bill 8
The House also passed an education bill that would require public schools to give parents a heads up before teaching “sexuality content” and require school staff to out students to their parents.
Wednesday’s 65-29 vote comes two weeks after amendments were made to House Bill 8’s original language that changed “sexually explicit content” to “sexuality content” which is defined as “oral or written instruction, presentation, image, or description of sexual concepts or gender ideology.” Callender was the only Republican present to vote against HB 8.
The other amendment requires educators to notify parents about “any request by a student to identify as a gender that does not align with the student’s biological sex.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for committee consideration.
HB 8, also known as “Enact the Parents’ Bill of Rights,” would require public schools to notify parents about sexuality content materials, give parents a chance to review them, and give parents the option to request alternative instruction.
State Reps. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, and Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, introduced the bill in February and argue the bill is about parental oversight.
“HB 8 is about informing parents that yes, you are welcome in our schools and we encourage you to learn more about your child’s learning and we are not keeping you out,” Carruthers said. “The parents bill of rights, as is, is not anti-LGBTQ nor does it have anything to do with LGBTQ+ community.”
The pair introduced similar legislation in the last General Assembly with “sexually explicit” language, but it didn’t get out of committee.
HB 8 has received lots of pushback and opponents say the recent amendments have turned the bill into anti-LGBTQ legislation.
Nearly one in five transgender and nonbinary young people attempted suicide in the past year, according to the Trevor Project’s 2023 survey of mental health of LGBTQ youth.
“It’s a hateful attack on Ohio’s teachers and our children, especially those who are in the LGBTQ+ community,” state Rep. Jessica E. Miranda, D-Forest Park, said. “It’s an attempt to alienate the LGBTQ+ community.”
House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, was disappointed by the passage of HB 68 and HB 8.
“We are deeply disappointed by these anti-LGBTQ bills that are clearly hostile,” she said. “These are real people and real people’s lives that are being used for political fodder.”
No public testimony on HB 8
The House’s Primary and Secondary Committee did not have any public testimony on HB 8 after the most recent amendments — much to the dismay of the Democrats on the committee.
“We have a responsibility to the residents in the state of Ohio to hear them out,” said state Rep. Sean Patrick Brennan, D-Parma, during a June 13 committee meeting. “I would hate to see this bill pass without a full vetting of those that would like to come in and give their perspective on it.”
State Rep. Phillip Robinson, D-Solon, said the recent amendments “completely changes the bill.”
However, state Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, called HB 8 common sense legislation.
“It recognizes and affirms the crucial role parents play in their child and their development and it’s alarming to me that we need legislation that is such common sense,” he said during the June 13 committee meeting. “Parents have a right to know what’s being taught to their children. … The opponents of this bill are focused on silencing parents.”
This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.