State Board of Education meeting protest signs. File Photo by Morgan Trau, WEWS.
The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
The Ohio State Board of Education gave a small win to the LGBTQ+ community Wednesday night by choosing to delay a vote on a resolution that would oppose protections for them. In a packed meeting, supporters and opponents of a resolution gave hours of testimony.
The resolution now goes to the school board’s executive committee, which is where the board will get to process it and learn more information. This delay was spearheaded by Akron moderate Tim Miller, who said the board needed to focus more on the kids and less on the “parent’s rights” activists.
The progressives, as expected, jumped at the idea and so did some other moderates. The final vote was 12-7 to refer the resolution to the committee.
It is unclear when the final vote will take place, with the conservatives arguing this was just a way to kill the resolution — which could very likely happen.
See how the events unfolded below:
NEW: Board member Tim Miller, an Akron moderate, proposed to move the vote to executive committee… That means a vote may not come tonight. He said there needs to be an actual discussion because this will impact kid's lives.
— Morgan Trau (@MorganTrau) October 12, 2022
In an incredibly cramped and overheated room, activists, parents, students and lawmakers took to the mic. There was an overflow room for additional community members, but building staff quickly had to spread people around due to it being a fire hazard.
Of those who were expected to speak, 79 were anti-resolution, while 53 were pro. However, one of those anti-resolution statements had 142 people signed on in agreement.
Hundreds gathered at the Ohio Board of Education to testify. What much of the debate has come down to is equality versus religion and the transphobic and unsubstantiated claim that transgender students are dangerous.
Conservative state board member Brendan Shea introduced the “Resolution to support parents, schools, and districts in rejecting harmful, coercive, and burdensome gender identity policies.”
The document was created after Shea read about Attorney General Dave Yost’s July lawsuit against the Biden Administration. Yost, who joined 21 other attorneys general, argued that new changes to Title IX were illegal.
Due to the plethora of anti-trans legislation hitting state legislatures across the country, President Joe Biden strengthened protections for students under the protection act.
Biden wants to have every educator be that inclusive by extending Title IX to protect against gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination, which trans woman Cam Ogden says is the bare minimum.
“No one should have to go through the things that trans people go through alone, we all deserve to feel supported, whether that is in schools, in the department of education, or whether that’s when we are meeting with a legislator,” she said.
Shea and other Republican policymakers said the new guidelines go too far since the government could withhold federal funding from schools that don’t follow the updated law. Mother Heather Crem agreed.
“We are too far to the left right now in our Title IX,” the mom said. “And it’s harming all of our other kids and it’s just morally wrong.”
Among other provisions, it requires all Ohio schools to report to parents if their child mentions anything about their gender in a non-conforming way — in the classroom or when talking to a counselor.
Shea’s bill prohibits trans youth from playing sports because it would be “unfair” and it places “girls and women at increased risk for harassment and sexual assault by males who claim a female identity.”
Lisa Chaffee, another mother and activist, said these regulations will make the playing field fairer.
“It’s going to prevent discrimination against the parents, against the students, against girls who simply want to go to the bathroom without there being a male in the bathroom, without having to compete in scores against biological males,” Chaffee said.
But trans man Aaron Demlow says this resolution will only cause LGBTQ+ youth to isolate themselves, which academic studies have shown will increase suicide.
“It’s mind-boggling honestly,” he said. “To be a trans person, to be a former trans student and tell you — this is harmful — and not to be taken seriously, it’s going to put a lot of students in danger.”
News 5’s Morgan Trau spoke exclusively with Shea right after he proposed his resolution.
“Denying the reality of biological sex destroys foundational truths upon which education rests and irreparably damages children,” Shea said, without any underlying evidence or data to support the claim.
The board member, a financial advisor who is home-schooling his children, knew he would be putting forward a “somewhat bold” proposal, but it “needs to be addressed.”
See his comments in the link below.
To note, just because Shea wants to put forward this resolution doesn’t mean he has the power for all of these requirements to go into place. He isn’t a lawmaker, but a policy-maker, and has limited control over educators. He can, however, give encouragement to lawmakers to continue looking at these types of bills and can have the state superintendent tell school districts to not follow Title IX.
This resolution mirrors multiple other bills introduced.
It is unclear how much research Shea has done on this topic, similar to state Rep. Gary Click, a Sandusky Republican who authored controversial legislation dealing with LGBTQ+ rights. However, both men put forward their ideas, with Shea’s mirroring Click’s.
A leaked audio recording of Click’s conversation with a trans woman has revealed that the bill impacting the LGBTQ+ community was written without a basic understanding of the people it would impact and that the lawmaker had never spoken to any members of the trans community before authoring, introducing or giving testimony on the bill.
House Bill 454, introduced Click, would severely limit healthcare for transgender youth. In the 90-minute audio recording shared with News 5, constituent Cam Ogden, 22, spoke with Click, who is also a pastor in rural Sandusky County. She went to meet with him to urge him in early March 2022 to stop the bill but said what she learned in his office was much more concerning.
Click testified during the Wednesday hearing to show his support.
State Rep. Gary Click is testifying now in support of the resolution.
— Morgan Trau (@MorganTrau) October 12, 2022
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