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Ohio Republicans force through anti-trans bathroom ban at last minute

April 10, 2024; Columbus, Ohio; Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gives his 2024 State of the State address in the Ohio House chambers at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday afternoon.
April 10, 2024; Columbus, Ohio; Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gives his 2024 State of the State address in the Ohio House chambers at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Wednesday, Ohio Republicans pushed an anti-trans bathroom bill through the Ohio House of Representatives, ignoring the normal legislative process by adding the bill as a provision to an unrelated education bill.

“I didn’t anticipate that we would be using the power of the state to bully transgender children and individuals today,” said state Rep. Beth Liston (D) when debating the amended bill. “I will reiterate my concern that we continue to focus on children’s genitals rather than their education.”

“As far as protecting girls and women, I will tell you as a woman, I do not want nor need your protection,” state Rep. Allison Russo (D) agreed. “This body continues, over and over again, to […] target and bully children.”

S.B. 104 originally focused on Ohio’s College Credit Plus program and had nothing pertaining to bathrooms in the original bill. However, state Rep. Adam Bird (R) added an amendment to the bill, which was the full text of H.B. 183. H.B. 183 bans transgender people from using the bathroom they identify with in educational institutions. It also includes restrictions on shower rooms and locker rooms.

The vote passed through the House 60 to 31, with two Republicans, state Reps. Jamie Callender and Gayle Manning, voting with the Democrats.

The bill will be voted on again in the fall when the state Senate reconvenes. 

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said of the bill, “As it stands now, I would sign the bill.”

State Rep. Beth Lear (R), who co-authored H.B. 183 with Bird, said, “If I had a child who thought he was a bird, am I going to take them to a doctor who tells me the best thing to do is to let him explore being a bird and oh by the way, there’s a five-story building next door, why don’t you jump off and see if you can fly?”

Earlier this year, Ohio Republicans passed H.B. 68, a sweeping gender-affirming care ban for minors. While DeWine vetoed it, he then signed an executive order that would have imposed even harsher restrictions on both children and adults, and the state Department of Health (DOH) filed rules restricting gender-affirming care. The DOH rules were altered to be less restrictive several months later, and the veto was overridden.

Morgan Zickes, public policy manager at LGBTQ+ rights organization Equality Ohio, said in a statement to The Buckeye Flame, “Across races, backgrounds, and genders, we all deserve the dignity of safely existing in public life and using the most basic of public accommodations. Today, we saw extremists in the General Assembly resort to eleventh-hour back door legislative efforts to ensure that transgender and gender expansive Ohioans are stripped of this fundamental decency,”

“This is the latest of their desperate efforts to advance a deeply unpopular and discriminatory agenda that Ohioans do not want or need. We will never stop defending transgender and gender expansive communities across our state.”

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