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Ohio House of Representatives

Rep. Beth Lear, right, co-sponsored the bill

A bill that would ban transgender students from using the bathroom and locker rooms that match their gender identity was recently introduced by a pair of Ohio Republican lawmakers.

House Bill 183— introduced by state Rep. Beth Lear, R-Galena, and state Rep. Adam Byrd, R-New Richmond — would require K-12 schools and colleges to require students to use only the bathroom or locker room assigned to their birth gender. It also prohibits schools from allowing students to share overnight accommodation with the opposite sex.

“No school shall allow members of the biological sex female to use a student restroom, locker room, locker room, or shower room that has been designated by the school exclusively for the biological sex male,” the bill states. “No school shall allow members of the biological sex male to use a restroom, changing room, locker room or shower room designated by the school exclusively for the biological sex female.”

Lear did not respond to OCJ’s request for comment. Byrd, who was unable to speak with OCJ, tweeted that the bill is about protecting children.

“Protect them from what?” Erin Upchurch, executive director of the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, responded. “No one is protected by this bill.”

The bill says it does not prohibit schools from having single rooms. It also says it will not apply to those assisting a person with a disability or a child under 10 who is assisted by a parent, guardian or family member.

Other states, such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Iowa, have laws that prohibit transgender K-12 students from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. Kansas and Florida recently passed laws banning bathrooms that extend beyond school grounds.

The opposition

HB 183 drew swift opposition, with Upchurch saying the bill was “blatantly discriminatory.”

“They’re really focused on attacking the transgender, non-binary community and especially young people,” Upchurch said. “It creates problems that don’t exist. . . . It creates a very, I think, strange fixation on young people’s body parts and genitalia.”

As a mother, she said people are concerned about what’s under her children’s clothes.

“Now, school bathrooms will become even more dangerous for trans kids, making them completely inaccessible,” Maria Bruno, director of public policy for Equality Ohio, said in a statement. “The sponsors of this bill should try not to go to the bathroom for 8 hours and tell us how that goes before signing up trans students to do just that.”

Thirty percent of LGBTQ+ students said they were not allowed to use the restroom that matched their gender, and 26% were not allowed to use the locker room that matched their gender. Ohio State in 2021 by GLSENwhich examines the school experiences of LGBTQ middle and high school students.

Looking specifically at transgender and non-binary students, 42% were unable to use a gender-appropriate bathroom and 36% were unable to use a gender-appropriate locker room, according to the Ohio GLSEN report.

Almost 1 in 5 young transgender and non-binary people attempted suicide last year, according to the Trevor Project’s 2023 LGBTQ Youth Mental Health Study.

Anti-transformation bills in the State House

This is the third anti-trans transportation bill that has been introduced in this General Assembly.

House Bill 68, also known as the Saving Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE Act), would ban doctors from providing transgender care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, to trans youth. More than 200 people gave evidence of opponents this week to the House Health Committee.

House Bill 6, was called the “Saving Women’s Sports Act”.,” would prevent trans athletes from participating in Ohio women’s sports and youth track and field. The The Higher Education Committee of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill earlier this month and is awaiting a full vote in the House of Representatives.

“Hateful is the only word I can think of because I can’t think of any other reason why our grown-up elected officials would literally come after the livelihoods, welfare and well-being of young people and attack them,” Upchurch said. “As they continue to add to them, it becomes more and more obvious what they are trying to do, which is to destroy and destroy the entire community.”

Originally published Ohio Capital Journal. Republished here with permission.

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