Bill that bans Ohio trans youth from gender-affirming care headed to governor's desk
Ohio lawmakers voted Wednesday to both ban transgender youth from school athletics and limit their access to medical care related to their gender identity.
The 24-8 vote in the Ohio Senate on House Bill 68 came after more than an hour of fiery debate and two Democratic proposals—blocked by the Republican-majority caucus—to heavily amend the bill.
Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), a now-retired doctor, was among the GOP senators who said they question the science of gender-affirming care.
“You have to work as a team in collaboration with patients, but you have to give them good medical advice, and if you don't know if something you're doing is going to hurt someone 10, 15, 20 years down the road, or maybe even one year down the road, don't do it,” Johnson said. “I stand here today and say I am not comfortable with what's going on with the scientific evidence.”
But Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), the first publicly gay senator to hold the position, said she’s waiting for the day she no longer feels like the legislature is waging a war against the LGBTQ community.
“I've told you all before, there isn't a closet big enough to send us all back to. We’re not going,” Antonio said.
Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) was the lone GOP senator who voted against the bill. Two hours later, the Ohio House voted to concur with the Senate's version.
LGBTQ rights advocates, some of whom had been at a hearing on the bill last week that went more than seven hours, showed out at the Statehouse for much of the day Wednesday. As session was underway, two dozen demonstrators chanted outside the senate chamber doors—so loudly that their voices echoed to the other side of the legislature.
Inside, other LGBTQ advocates, like Mallory Golski, sat and listened. Golski works for Kaleidoscope Youth Center, an LGBTQ youth facility in Columbus, and is a swim coach, too. She feels for the kids she interacts with almost daily.
“They should be worried about school,” Golski said. “They should be worried about making friends. They should be worried about how they're going to do in their next sports competition. Right? They shouldn't have to worry about their basic needs.”
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said although the opponents far outnumbered the proponents on HB 68, lawmakers have to think of the entire state.
“We don't make laws just for the hundreds of people that come and testify. We make laws for over 11 million people,” Huffman said.
HB 68 is now off to Gov. Mike DeWine, who hasn’t yet indicated whether he will sign it.
At an unrelated event Wednesday afternoon, DeWine said he was going to “reserve that comment until I see the final bill.”