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House Bill 183 was added to Senate Bill 104 as an amendment on the House floor late Wednesday night, then S.B. 104 passed as amended with a 60-31 vote.

BY:  – Ohio Capital Journal

The Ohio House passed a bill late Wednesday night amid its last session before going on summer break that would ban transgender students from using the bathroom and locker rooms that match up with their gender identity.

House Bill 183 was added to Senate Bill 104 as an amendment on the House floor Wednesday night, then S.B. 104 passed as amended with a 60-31 vote. All House Democrats who were present voted against the bill. Republicans Jamie Callender and Gayle Manning also voted against the bill.

State Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, introduced Senate Bill 104, which revises the College Credit Plus Program.

The bill heads back to the Senate to concur, but the lawmakers are now on summer break.

What is in H.B. 183?

State Reps. Beth Lear, R-Galena, and Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, introduced H.B. 183, which would make Ohio K-12 schools and colleges mandate that students can only use the bathroom or locker room that aligns with their gender assigned at birth.

“Boys and girls should not be in locker rooms together,” Lear said. “They should not be in bathrooms together and they should not be sharing overnight accommodations.”

Bird said school superintendents from around the state came to him saying they need this bill.

“Superintendents and school boards, they need clarity on this issue,” Bird said. “…We want to protect women and girls from assault, from intimidation.”

The bill would not prohibit a school from having single-occupancy facilities and it 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.

The American Medical Association officially opposes policies preventing transgender individuals from accessing basic human services and public facilities consistent with gender identity.

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.

More than 100 people testified against the bill in the House Higher Education Committee.

Debate on the House floor

There was about 30 minutes of debate over the bathroom ban amendment before it was voted favorably out of the House.

Democrats opposing the bill said it is an attack on Ohio’s most marginalized students.

“I didn’t anticipate that we would be using the power of the state to bully transgender children and individuals today,” State Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin, said. “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. Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, D-Gahanna, said she testified against this bill back when she was the president of the Gahanna-Jefferson School Board, before she was sworn in as a legislator.

“Most egregiously, this bill needlessly targets some of our most marginalized students,” she said. “And worse than that, it targets a basic human function for which every single one of us deserves privacy. This is not what any of the children need.”

House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, shared her frustration with Republican lawmakers for spending time on the bathroom bill when there are other pressing issues in schools such as the teacher shortage or busing issues.

“Here we are, again, I think focusing on the wrong things,” she said. “There’s so many things that need to be done in our school districts and for schools and for our students. But this body continues, over and over again, to focus on the small group of children and target and bully children. … This is what we’re spending our time and energy on. I’m sorry, but don’t tell me your school districts are coming to you begging for this. Baloney.”

Russo has three school-aged children.

“No one has talked to me about this,” she said. “This is a made up problem.”

Republicans argued the bill makes sense.

State Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, said the bathroom bill amendment is probably the most straightforward piece of legislation lawmakers will vote on for the next few years.

“This is easy,” she said. “This is simple. This should not be complicated.”

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.

Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.


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