Friday, January 27

Ohio Republicans remove genital checks from trans athlete ban; sub in birth record gender checks

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

Senate Republicans introduced and passed an amendment to the bill that removed language that would have subjected youth to invasive physical exams of the student’s genitalia if someone questioned their gender.

Instead, the amendment subbed in birth records as the determinant of a student’s gender:

“The amendment replaces language concerning a dispute over a participant’s sex requiring a signed physician’s statement with language that instead requires the school or OHSAA to determine the participant’s sex based on the sex that the participant was designated at birth using the participant’s birth record.”

A 2021 ruling allowed Ohioans to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, but that was not addressed in the Tuesday hearing. It is unclear whether the phrase “designated at birth” in the amendment circumvents this ruling.

The amendment also also removed provisions from the bill related to collegiate athletics, meaning the ban would only apply to K-12 education.

The amendment passed 6-1, with Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) providing the sole objection.

Sykes then spoke to a possible amendment to permit transgender student to participate in athletic activity by meeting two criteria:

  1. The student would have received hormone treatment related to gender transition for at least one year,
  2. The student would request and receive approval to participate from a physician who certifies that the student does not have any unfair physical advantage to participate in a women’s sports.

Sykes said that this language would codify procedures already used by the OHSAA. Sykes’ language was not discussed further.

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.

In speaking in Tuesday’s hearing to the original language of the bill supporting teachers, Tom Perkins, the deputy executive director of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, asked the senators to remove the language around trans athletes.

“As you are aware, the House added a controversial bill (HB 61) to HB 151 through a floor amendment,” Perkins said. “We urge the Senate to remove the provisions of HB 61 from HB 151 and address the two issues separately. The two are very different in both subject area, and in the stakeholders who have an interest in the proposals.”

The second hearing of HB 151 concluded without any further testimony. The entire hearing lasted less than seven minutes. 🔥

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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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