Ohio’s legislature has approved a bill that combines a ban on gender-affirming care for minors with a sports ban for trans youth. Advocates are now urging the Republican governor to make good on his previously stated neutrality on similar legislation and veto the bill.
House Bill 68 passed the Ohio General Assembly on December 13 to a 24-8 vote. Afterwards, last-minute changes were made at the behest of Ohio’s Children’s Hospital Association, allowing minors who are currently receiving gender-affirming care to continue treatment. The amendments were quickly approved by the House, and the bill now heads to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk for ratification.
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In 2021, DeWine issued a statement on a similar bill—one concerned solely with women’s sports. “This issue is best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association, who can tailor policies to meet the needs of their member athletes and member institutions,” the statement read.
Journalist Karen Kasler recently questioned DeWine on whether he will support HB 68, but the governor declined to comment before seeing the final version of the bill. “We’re going to see exactly what form it takes,” he said, referring to the last-minute amendments.
As lawmakers were casting their votes, protestors gathered at the Senate, shouting “Shame!” after the bill was approved.
“So we don’t make laws just for the hundreds of people that come and testify,” argued Republican Senate President Matt Huffman, according to cleveland.com. “We make laws for over 11 million people.”
This statement is at odds with the fact that the Ohio House received 600 letters opposing the bill and only 56 in support. Democrat Nickie Antonio, the only out gay lawmaker in the Senate, pointed out that voters have voiced their opposition to other proposed healthcare restrictions, having recently passed a ballot measure to protect abortion access.
“I think Ohioans should be puzzled why they’ve not been listened to,” said Antonio. “They have told us twice in the past recent months, that they don’t want the government interfering in their health care. And here we are, again, not only interfering in their health care, we’re usurping the ability of parents to make decisions.”
Following the vote, Sen Paula Hicks-Hudson addressed the crowd of protestors. “We appreciate you coming to express your positions,” she said. “Some of us heard you, and I just urge you to not give up because the work will continue. …We understand that our young people have so many different types of trials and trauma that they have to deal with.
“And unfortunately, this legislature is going to add an additional trauma to that. For that, I apologize. But I’m just saying, the battle is not over.”
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