Wednesday, December 7

Do you know your HB 616 from 151 from 454? This guide to current Ohio LGBTQ+ legislation will help!

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With our state legislature on summer break, the Ohio LGBTQ+ community has a little bit of breathing room from the slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that are currently moving through the Columbus statehouse.

But when the legislature reconvenes after the November elections, they will be in “lame duck” session: the time after an election when Ohio legislators have historically tried to quickly jam through a slew of legislation.

To help you differentiate one house bill (HB) from another, we have put together this easy-to-use reference guide to the most prominent LGBTQ+ bills.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ohio LGBTQ+ community is deeply affected by bills regarding bans on reproductive healthcare, anti-protest bills and a host of other issues. This list should not suggest any one piece of legislation is more paramount than another.)


HB 151 – The Save Women’s Sports Act

Sponsor: Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum)

What would this bill do: This bill would ban trans athletes from competition and allow anyone to openly question any student-athlete’s gender, subjecting the youth to invasive medical testing and genital examinations in order to compete. The bill also opens up schools, school districts, interscholastic conferences, or organizations that regulates interscholastic athletics to liability, and offers protections to those entities if trans athletes lodge complaints against them.

Status of the bill: After 11pm on June 1 — the first day of Pride Month — the Ohio House passed this trans youth sports ban by attaching it to a completely unrelated bill regarding an Ohio teacher residency program. The Save Women’s Sports Act had no hearings and passed without testimony. HB 151 now heads to the Ohio Senate, where Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has said the bill will move forward, but without the language on genital exams. 

Representative Jena Powell hijacking an unrelated bill to ban trans youth from athletics.


HB 276 – To prohibit a person from receiving proceeds of prostitution

Sponsors: Representatives Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland)

What would this bill do?: This legislation would ban any individual from receiving or acquiring money or any other thing of value if “they know that it was earned from sexual activity for hire.” The bill’s sponsors say that HB 276 was introduced to curb human trafficking and hamper pimps. But neither the word “pimp” nor any reference to human trafficking appears in the text of HB 276. Advocates fear the bill’s vague language will allow law enforcement to further marginalize and target trusted loved ones in the lives of LGBTQ+ sex workers — like family members or small children who depend on their financial support.

Because LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely to engage in sex work as members of the general population, experts say they’re doubly vulnerable to the bill’s unintended consequences. This could leave sex workers unable to buy things like groceries and diapers, while also criminalizing their sources of support, be they family assisting with childcare, landlord, convenience store owner, or even a health care provider.

Status of the bill: On March 31, the Ohio House passed HB 276 by a vote of 87 to 4. The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate, where it has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee.


HB 454 – The Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act

Sponsors: Representative Gary Click (R-Vickery) and Diane Grendell (R-Chester Township)

What would this bill do?: If this legislation passes, it would:

  • Prohibit medical professionals from making referrals to individuals under age 18 to any medical doctor for any type of 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.

Status of the bill: The first hearing for HB 454 on February 17 was wild and featured Pastor Representative Click and a former porn star. The second hearing on May 19 was pretty darn awful and featured gender-affirming care being compared to dog training, an analogy to the Holocaust, and the label of “social contagion” being applied to trans individuals. The third hearing on May 26 largely featured parents of trans children, all of whom misgendered their children—literally—hundreds of time. The fourth hearing on June 1st was the first opponent hearing and featured medical care providers and hospital representatives testifying for 2 1/2 hours on the realities of providing gender-affirming care, in an attempt combat the misinformation that had been previously presented by witnesses and Republican representatives on the committee. It is anticipated that there will be at least one more opponent hearing.

Pastor Rep. Gary Click laughing during the first hearing of HB 454.


HB 616 – Regarding promotion and teaching of divisive & inherently racist concepts

Sponsors: Representatives Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland)

What would this bill do?: Often compared to Florida’s #DontSayGay bill, HB 616 goes further than its Florida counterpart, incorporating in a ban on school districts from selecting “any textbook, instructional material, or academic curriculum that promotes any divisive or inherently racist concepts” including: critical race theory, intersectional theory, the 1619 project, learning outcomes related to diversity, equity & inclusion, inherited racial guilt, and any other concept that the state board of education defines as divisive or inherently racist

Additionally, the bill would prevent schools from offering “training or professional development to employees that promote or endorse divisive or inherently racist concepts.”

Regarding LGBTQ+ identity, the bill outlines the following bans:

  • With respect to a student in any of grades kindergarten through three, schools may not teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • With respect to a student in any of grades four through twelve, schools may not teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity in any manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Consequences for violating these statutes include an official licensure admonishment, licensure suspension, licensure revocation, and the withholding of funds to that school.

Status of the bill: HB 616 had its first hearing on May 31, proponent testimony from the bill’s sponsors and a few questions from representatives on the committee. It is expected there will be more proponent hearings before it moves on to opponent testimony.

Representatives Mike Loychick and Jean Schmidt introducing HB 616.


HB 722 – The Parents Bill of Rights

Sponsors: Representatives D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Sarah Carruthers (R-Hamilton).

What would this bill do?: This bill would:

  • Notify parents about any change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being or the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student.
  • Prohibit school district personnel from directly or indirectly encouraging a student to withhold from a parent information concerning the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.
  • Notify the parents of students prior to instruction involving materials that include sexually explicit content and identify the specific instructional material and sexually explicit subjects.

Status of the bill: HB 722 was introduced on September 15. It has not been assigned to a committee and thus there have not been any hearings yet.


HB 208 & SB 119 – Ohio Fairness Act

Sponsors: Representatives Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) and Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) // Senators Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Michael Rulli (R-Salem)

Would this bill do?: The Fairness Act would ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodation. Currently, these forms of discrimination are legal in Ohio.

Status of the bill: Some form of the Fairness Act has been introduced in the Ohio legislature for over a decade by Antonio. When the latest versions were introduced on March 4, 2021, bill sponsors noted more Republican support than on previous iterations.  Senate President Matt Huffman has stated his opposition publicly. Though there has been no movement on these bills for 16 months, insiders have said that there is a plan to move it forward during lame duck session. 🔥

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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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