New bill would ban transgender students from using bathroom that matches gender identity
House Bill 183 would require K-12 schools and colleges to mandate that students could only use the bathroom or locker room that matches their sex assigned at birth.
Close-up of a transgender pride flag flapping on a sunny day filling the frame
A bill banning transgender students from being able to use the bathroom and locker room that aligns with their gender identity was recently introduced by a pair of Ohio Republican legislators.
House Bill 183 — introduced by state Rep. Beth Lear, R-Galena, and state Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond — would require K-12 schools and colleges to mandate that students could only use the bathroom or locker room that matches their sex assigned at birth. It would also prohibit schools from allowing students to share overnight accommodations with the opposite sex.
“No school shall permit a member of the female biological sex to use a student restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room that has been designated by the school for the exclusive use of the male biological sex,” the bill’s language reads. “No school shall permit a member of the male biological sex to use a student restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room that has been designated by the school for the exclusive use of the female biological sex.”
Lear did not respond to the OCJ’s request for comment. Bird, who was unable to speak to the OCJ, posted on Twitter that the bill is about protecting children.
“Protecting them from what?” Erin Upchurch, Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center, said in response. “Nobody is being protected with this bill.”
The bill says this would not prohibit a school from having single-occupancy facilities. It also says this would not apply to someone helping a person with a disability or a child younger than 10 years old being assisted by a parent, guardian, or family member.
Other states like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Iowa have laws that ban K-12 transgender students from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. Kansas and Florida both recently passed laws with bathroom bans that go beyond schools.
HB 183 has drawn swift opposition and Upchurch said the bill is “blatantly discriminatory.”
“They’re truly fixated on attacking the transgender, non-binary community and especially young people,” Upchurch said. “It’s creating problems that don’t exist … It creates this very, I think, bizarre fixation on body parts and genitals of young people.”
As a parent, she said it’s concerning that people are worried about what’s underneath her children’s clothes.
“Now, bathrooms in schools will be even more unsafe for trans kids, making them altogether inaccessible,” Maria Bruno, Public Policy Director of 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 have to do exactly that.”
Thirty percent of LGBTQ+ students said they were prevented from using the bathroom that aligned with their gender, and 26% were stopped from using the locker room that aligned with their gender, according to Ohio’s 2021 state snapshot by GLSEN, which examines the school experiences of LGBTQ middle and high school students.
When looking specifically at transgender and nonbinary students, 42% were prevented from using the bathroom that aligned with their gender and 36% couldn’t use the locker room that aligned with their gender, according to the Ohio GLSEN report.
Nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary young people attempted suicide in the past year, according to the Trevor Project’s 2023 survey of mental health of LGBTQ youth.
Anti-trans bills in Statehouse
This is the third anti-trans bill that has been introduced so far this General Assembly.
House Bill 68, also known as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE Act), would prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, to trans youth. More than 200 people submitted opponent testimony to the House Public Health Committee this week.
House Bill 6, dubbed “Save Women’s Sports Act,” would prevent trans athletes from participating in Ohio women’s sports and youth athletics. The bill was voted out of the House Higher Education Committee earlier this month and is awaiting a full House vote.
“Hatred is the only word I can think of, because I can’t imagine another reason why our adult elected officials are literally coming for and attacking the livelihood, the wellness and the well being of young people,” Upchurch said. “Because they keep adding on to them, it just becomes more and more obvious what they’re trying to do, and that is to obliterate and eradicate an entire community.”
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