Ohio House passes trans bathroom ban

Republicans in Ohio’s state House passed a bill Wednesday banning transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms in K-12 schools and colleges that correspond with their gender identity.

The measure was added at the last minute as an amendment to a Senate bill focusing on the state’s college credit program. The state Legislature went on its summer recess shortly after the bill’s passage, and the Senate still needs to agree to the changes made by the House.

“Superintendents and school boards need clarity on this issue,” state Rep. Adam Bird (R) said during the debate. “We should not be sitting on the sideline waiting for the federal executive branch to make decisions. We should not be sitting on the sideline waiting for the judicial branch to make decisions when it comes to this issue.”

Historically, the state Legislature does not reconvene until after November in an election year, when members of the Legislature are up for election, meaning it is unclear when or if the bill will become law.

State Democrats slammed the bill’s passage, with House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D) posting on the social platform X, “We have school districts that can’t afford bus services for students and teachers for classrooms, but here we are after nearly 12 hours of session focusing on bathrooms.”

“I didn’t anticipate we would be using the power of the state to bully transgender children and individuals today,” state Rep. Beth Liston (D) wrote on X. “As far as protecting girls and women, I will tell you as a woman, I do not want nor need your protection.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio also weighed in on X, calling the bill a “state-sponsored attack against LGBTQ communities during Pride Month,” vowing to “keep fighting” against the bill.

The state House was considering a similar bill during this session, with a House panel approving the legislation, but that bill never came to the floor for a vote.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature overrode Republican Gov. Mark DeWine’s veto of a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for minors and prevent transgender women and girls from competing in female school sports. According to The Columbus Dispatch, a DeWine spokesperson declined to weigh in on whether or not he would sign the current transgender bathroom bill.

Passing transgender bathroom bills has become increasingly commonplace in Republican-controlled states. According to the Movement Access Project, 12 states currently have bans similar to the one Ohio passed on Wednesday.

Transgender bathroom bans have been subject to a flurry of court activity in recent years.

In Ohio, a federal judge ruled in favor of a restroom policy that accommodates transgender students last year.

The Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving an Indiana transgender bathroom law earlier this year, maintaining a lower court ruling that allowed a transgender middle school boy to use the boys’ restroom.

President Biden also issued a federal rule to prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender identity, but a judge blocked it from taking effect earlier this month.

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