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Government/Politics

In late-night, last-minute move, Ohio House passes ban on transgender athletes in girls sports

The Ohio Statehouse
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The Ohio Statehouse

It was after 11 p.m. Wednesday when members of the Ohio House of Representatives voted to attach an unrelated, controversial amendment to a bill that provided resources and mentorship opportunities for new teachers. That education bill had bipartisan support until the amendment, which would prevent trans athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports, was added. After vigorous debate, Republicans ended up voting for the bill, Democrats voting against it.

Specifically, the bill would now require transgender female athletes to join male or co-ed teams. And if someone questions a student's biological sex, they must get a signed statement from a doctor verifying it. Schools that violate the rules would be open to lawsuits.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) told lawmakers the bill is needed because without it, transgender women would have an unfair advantage in winning athletic contests.

"Transgender women, if they have the same athletic training as biological women, have a much better shot at that trophy or that coffee cup or that scholarship," Schmidt said.

There are no studies to show this is true.

Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) said the bill is needed to protect the integrity of women's sports. And she suggested another alternative for trans athletes.

“We seem to have different groups for everything. Why not a trans swim team? Why not a trans athletic team? Why do we always have to infringe on other people’s things?," Carruthers asked.

But several Democrats said the Ohio High School Athletic Association already has rules on this issue. And Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) said there are no issues with trans athletes dominating in Ohio sports.

“This is not a real problem. This is a made up, let’s feed red meat to the base issue. It’s not a real problem. You know it’s not. I know it’s not. Not one high school kid in Ohio has this issue," Brown said.

Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), a pediatrician at Nationwide Children's and a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Ohio State University, said the bill didn't make sense from a medical standpoint. And she said it would subject kids to undergo invasive tests to prove their gender.

"We have so many issues facing young people in our state. We've talked about school safety, mental health issues. I struggle to understand why we keep discussing bills focusing on children's genitals," Liston said.

The bill now goes to the Senate, but lawmakers there won’t be back until November. So the earliest the bill could be taken up is during the lame duck session after this fall’s election.

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