COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers are part of a record-breaking national conservative movement pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation, where 340 bills have been introduced in statehouses across the nation that affect states’ LGBTQ citizens.
Three bills are pending in Ohio that supporters say protect children.
“Young people experiencing gender identity disorder deserve to be loved, they deserve compassion and they deserve the proper treatment. They don’t deserve to be pushed into some of these things when they are not able to provide informed consent,” said Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery, the sponsor of one bill.
Opponents say they unfairly target members of a minority community.
“It’s a terrible sin. It’s a really terrible way to treat our young people in this state, we have heard time and time again, from young people who are really frustrated with some of these extremist policies,” said Maria Bruno, the public policy director for Equality Ohio.
Each side claims to be looking out for Ohio’s young people by fighting for or against the three bills pending at the Ohio Statehouse.
One is modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that would prohibit classroom discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation. Another would ban gender-affirming medical care for trans or nonbinary minors. The third would ban trans athletes from participating in school athletics.
“For transgender athletes, it would potentially altogether eliminate their opportunity to play a sport that aligns with their gender identity,” Bruno said, adding that she’s heard stories in other states with similar laws where cisgender girls are targeted as well.
Hundreds of people descended on the statehouse last year to oppose a proposed ban on trans-affirming medical care — a bill that also proposed penalties for parents and doctors. A new house proposal would put at risk the medical licenses of doctors who provide therapy, surgery or puberty blockers.
“This bill goes even further, and it adds additional issues into the situation and it touches on custody. We have really a lot of concerns that this continues to be the talking point, and they continue to attempt to argue that trans people are not real,” Bruno said.
Click was asked at a recent news conference, announcing the bill, to define “trans.”
“You are asking me if trans people exist. I can’t tell you if they exist or they don’t exist until you tell me what they are,” Click said.
Bruno said this is all part of a nationwide, “well-funded effort.”
“We are seeing that in sports, we’re seeing that in school curriculums, we’re seeing that in general Title IX compliance. This is just part of that general push, but that push is big, is coming from a very, very small minority of people who hold relatively extreme perspectives,” Bruno said.
Extreme perspectives, she argues, but sometimes powerful positions in state legislatures. Conservative lawmakers who insist parents should have a say in everything from abortion to school curriculum want parents out of gender treatment decisions.
“Legislators are leaders, and they set the tone for what’s an acceptable thing to say,” Bruno said. “When they are saying things like, using really harmful words like rumor, and making serious accusations against our entire community that does trickle down.”
Thus far, none of the bills are set for a vote.