Tuesday, November 29

“Finally our turn.” – Opponent hearing scheduled for HB 454. Here’s what you need to know.

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A 4th hearing (opponent testimony) for HB 454 will be held on Wednesday, June 1 at 9am in the Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives. But that’s not the only major item on the agenda.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is HB 454?

Dubbed the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, HB 454 is intended ” to prohibit certain procedures to alter a minor child’s sex.”

If passed, HB 454 would:

  • Prohibit medical professionals from making referrals to individuals under age 18 to any medical doctor for gender transition procedures.
  • Prohibit school staff from encouraging or coercing a minor to withhold from the minor’s parent or legal guardian the fact that the minor’s perception of his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex.
  • Force school staff to share with a minor’s parent or legal guardian information related to the minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex.
  • Prohibit any health insurance policy or other plan providing health care coverage in Ohio from providing reimbursement for gender transition procedures for individuals under 18.

Who proposed HB 454?

The co-sponsors of HB 454 are Republicans Gary Click (R-Vickery) and Diane Grendell (R-Chester Township). Click is a Baptist pastor and Grendell was a Judge of the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals for 18 years. HB 454 currently has 23 co-sponsors, all Republicans.

What happened at the first three hearings for HB 454?

The first hearing for HB 454 on February 17 was, in a word, wild. In only one hour, the hearing featured healthy doses of transphobia, shout-outs to shadow religious organizations, testimony from a former porn star, a gasp-inducing invocation of the c-word, and an Adele reference thrown in for good measure.

The second hearing on May 19 was pretty darn awful. The nearly-four-hour hearing included representatives from two organizations declared hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a few moms armed with a ton of unprovable anecdotes, and a host of out-of-state witnesses who travel the country appearing before state legislatures to invalidate the experiences of trans individuals. Gender-affirming care was compared to dog training, an analogy was made to the Holocaust, and trans individuals were called “a social contagion.”

The third hearing on May 26 largely featured parents of trans children, all of whom misgendered their children—literally—hundreds of time.

What will happen at this fourth hearing of HB 454?

This fourth hearing will be the first opportunity for opponents of the bill to provide testimony.

It is “invited” testimony, which means only witnesses that have been pre-invited will be allowed to testify. Unlike the first three open-ended hearings, there is a hard stop of 11:30am on this fourth hearing.

It is expected that this opponent testimony will largely be provided by medical experts in gender-affirming care in an effort to combat the misinformation spread at the first three hearings.

This is the only item on the agenda.

Will there be another protest at this hearing that people can join?

Yes, But it won’t look like the past two hearings of protesters outside with voices raised.

Instead, Equality Ohio has put out the call for opponents of HB 454 to “pack the house.”

We’re going to wear rainbows and fill hearing room 121 at the statehouse to show the power of our community and support those speaking.

Who is really behind HB 454?

At the February 17 meeting, Representative Click said he “was asked to carry this bill by parents and by the Center for Christian Virtue.”

The extraordinarily rightwing, Columbus-based CCV was formerly called the Citizens for Community Values, and has had connections to every piece of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation proposed in the past few sessions of the Ohio legislature.

Minutes after Rep. Click admitted the connection to CCV, he bafflingly testified that HB 454 has “no religious motivations.”

Where can you watch the 4th hearing for HB 454?

The Ohio Channel broadcasts hearings live and then quickly archives them on the committee’s video page. Though the meeting starts at 9am, HB 454 is the 3rd item on the committee’s agenda for the morning.

BE WARNED: Although this is opponent testimony, it is expected that Republican representatives will continue to espouse transphobic sentiments through their questions to the witnesses. 🔥

Ignite Action:

  • Pack Room 121 of the Columbus Statehouse on June 1st in your rainbow bedecked gear.
  • If you are struggling, please remember you are not alone. Contact Trevor Project for 24 Hour Crisis Services.
  • Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support for our community that’s been divested from police since day one. Their hotline is 1.877.565.8860.
  • Equality Ohio has a whole linktr.ee with actions dedicated to speaking out regarding HB 454, including how to contact this committee hearing the testimony.

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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