Friday, January 27

The Ohio Senate heard testimony this week on the trans youth athlete ban…sorta.

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On Wednesday, the Primary and Secondary Education committee of the Ohio Senate held a first hearing on HB 151, a bill that would prohibit transgender youth from participating in school sports.

Officially titled “Replace Ohio Teacher Residency program with local mentorship,” HB 151 was originally designed to support Ohio’s teachers by giving them additional time for state-required assessment and expanding their mentorship opportunities.

At 10:35pm on June 1 – at the tail end of a marathon hearing and on the first day of Pride Month – Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) attached the “Save Women’s Sports Act” to the bill, abandoning the entire Ohio legislative process by not having this bill go through the standard legislative procedure of being vetted through committees.

The amendment was passed after 11pm that day by a vote of 56-28, resulting in the “Save Women’s Sports Act” being attached to HB 151.

The full House then passed all of HB 151 – also by a vote of 56-28 – and sent the bill on to the Ohio Senate.

At Wednesday’s first hearing of HB 151 in the Senate sub-committee, bill sponsor Representative Don Jones (R-Freeport) introduced the language around supporting teachers.

In his remarks, Jones made no mention of the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” focusing solely on the bill’s application to Ohio’s teachers.

In an exchange that lasted less than 40 seconds, Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) asked Jones about the language banning trans athletes that is officially part of the bill.

SYKES: I noticed you didn’t mention anything about transgender athletes and evaluating them. Are you supportive of that? Is that part of this?

JONES: I spoke to the base of House Bill 151. That was an amendment that was added on the floor…It is an amendment that was added into my bill. I think there is an amendment that is being drafted to address some of the concerns that folks have.

SYKES: So your testimony is not to address that issue?

JONES: My testimony is on the heart of bill 151.

And that was it for mentions of banning all of Ohio’s trans youth from athletics.

The “concerns” mentioned by Rep. Jones likely include a part of the bill that could subject youth to invasive physical exams of the student’s genitalia if someone questions their gender.

“It’s a dangerous bill that will harm kids,” Rep. Both Liston (D-Dublin) said during a virtual press call in June. “[It’s] an invasion of bodily autonomy. Children should not have to do this to prove their gender to strangers in order to play sports.”

The Buckeye Flame reached out to Rep. Jones to provide more information on the status of the bill but he has not yet responded. This article will be updated if a response is received.

A second hearing for HB 151 has not yet been scheduled.  🔥

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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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