COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Senate is likely to adopt some sort of bill banning transgender participation in women’s sports by the end of the year, but it won’t necessarily approve the version passed by the Ohio House last year. week through a late night amendment inserted into other legislation, according to a senior Republican.
Senate President Matt Huffman of Lima said Tuesday that the Senate is likely to hold hearings when legislative sessions resume following the November election on the Senate’s version of a transgender sports bill. Senate Bill 132 has not received a single hearing in committee since its sponsor, Hudson Republican Senator Kristina Roegner, introduced it in March 2021.
But Huffman criticized Ohio House for hastily approving their transgender sports bill last week. For that bill, Ohio House Bill 151, House Republicans added transgender sports language during a late-night session as a last-minute modification to an otherwise uncontroversial bill related to a teacher mentoring program.
“I think it’s a bad way to change policy,” Huffman told reporters Tuesday after a Senate session, the last one scheduled to run until November. “This is something that a lot of people are interested in. And therefore, we have an account here, and I think we will probably move that when we have time to properly monitor these policy measures.”
Huffman declined to speak on controversial House-approved language that would require girls to undergo physical exams, including a genital examination, genetic testing, and blood work to check hormone levels, if their biological sex is in question. The language, which critics denounced as invasive and poorly defined, also appears in the current version of the Senate bill. Huffman said she didn’t want to talk about the details of the bill without it being disclosed through a typical committee review process.
The bill would also allow a school to be sued for damages “who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers direct or indirect damage” due to violation of the ban.
“I certainly sympathize with what the bill is trying to do,” Huffman said. “I am also sympathetic to the people they might influence. But there is a fundamental question of fairness. And it is something that should be addressed. With all of these problems, there are nuances and it’s just not like this or that. And again, that’s why putting the core amendments into an unrelated bill is a bad thing to do. “
Supporters of the proposed ban on transgender sports, which would apply at the high school and collegiate level, say it is necessary to preserve competitive athletic opportunities for girls. High-profile examples of successful transgender athletes, such as Lia Thomas, a female swimming champion at the University of Pennsylvania, have drawn further attention and controversy to the issue, which is part of a broader cultural struggle around traditional gender norms.
But Ohio opponents call the legislation a problem-seeking solution and say it would harm transgender children, who are already socially stigmatized. There is only one transgender athlete in Ohio high school sports this season, according to Maria Bruno, political director of Equality Ohio, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. The Ohio High School Athletics Association says it passed 48 transgender sentences between 2015 and 2021 on 400,000 Grade 7-12 students participating in OHSAA-sanctioned sports.
Bruno also said the approved bill would be particularly harmful to non-transgender girls, who could be forced to undergo invasive and expensive medical tests to prove their gender if anyone questions it.
“This means that any athlete who could beat your daughter or win a championship could be challenged and forced to go through this very invasive process,” said Bruno.
Last week’s vote was the second time House Republicans added a ban on transgender sports to an unrelated bill shortly before passing it. In July 2021, they changed the language in a bill that would otherwise give college athletes the legal right to seek endorsements.
Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, said in a statement at the time he opposed the bill.
“This issue is best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which can tailor policies to meet the needs of their member athletes and member institutions,” DeWine said in the statement at the time.
But DeWine was never forced to act on the account. The Senate passed the college approval bill in a different form and never held a hearing on the language version of the ban on transgender sports. Also, that House bill did not include the gender verification language that has sparked recent controversy.
Aaron Baer, president of the Center for Christian Virtue, a socially conservative lobbying organization in Columbus, said on Tuesday that his group is not opposed to the removal of gender-testing language from the bill. But, he said he believes there is enough support in the Republican-dominated legislature for the bill to pass somehow.
“We are very confident that this issue will be addressed at this General Assembly,” said Baer.
Bruno with Equality Ohio said that if the legislature passes something, they hope DeWine will veto the bill as some Republican governors did recently, such as Indiana, South Dakota and Utah, when they received similar bills from the legislatures. of their states.
“Our hope is that it never gets to his desk, so it’s not a decision he has to make. But if it does, I hope it will see the importance of youth mental health, student well-being and the invasion of the state on something that is already run by another regulatory entity, ”said Bruno.