Senate rolls education overhaul, vaccine anti-discrimination into bill to ban trans athletes
The Ohio Senate rolled a comprehensive bill that overhaul's education into another bill that bans transgender athletes from participating in girls' sports Wednesday night during a marathon day of legislating.
Members of the Ohio Senate weren't given paper copies of the amendment that was added to an already voluminous bill.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) even joked about it as he explained it was on the tablets lawmakers use in the chamber.
"This is a large amendment. it's on everyone's laptop to save many, many trees. We are not going to print all of that out," Huffman said.
But Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) explained to lawmakers that they were already familiar with the amendment because it was the same one the Senate had passed earlier dealing with taking powers away from the Ohio State Board of Education and giving it to the governor's administration.
That didn't convince Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) who said he wanted time to read through it and wouldn't vote for it otherwise.
"We come in here and 20 minutes later we are voting on something that we have no clue what's in it," Thomas said.
For Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), she had already read and seen enough of the original bill to know where she stood on it.
The initial bill bans transgender athletes from participating in girls' sports. She said there's no need for it because there is currently only one transgender athlete playing on a girl's team in an Ohio high school. She said that transgender girl had estrogen hormone levels that are acceptable to the Ohio High School Athletic Association's current policy on transgender athletes.
"She does not identify nor see herself as a boy who wants to play girls' sports. She identifies and sees herself and has the estrogen levels to prove that, at this point, she is a transgender girl who wants to play girls' sports," Antonio said.
Antonio pointed to testimony given by Ember, the young transgender athlete who is currently playing on a girls sports team.
But Brenner said, while there was moving testimony given by Ember and others during the legislative process, he's also heard from the other side of this issue too.
"I have also had personal conversations with mothers of daughters who are concerned that their daughters are potentially not going to be able to compete or do things that would potentially give them scholarships or get them into school and I had one almost crying over this," Brenner said.
In the end, the big bill passed 30-7 in the Senate, with Republicans voting for it and Democrats voting against it.