“This is appalling.”: Ohio House Republicans again hijack unrelated bill to ban trans youth from playing sports

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The vote tally on the Save Women's Sports Act. Yes votes are in green. Photo courtesy of Buckeye Flame
The vote tally on the Save Women’s Sports Act. Yes votes are in green. Photo courtesy of Buckeye Flame

By Ken Schneck, Buckeye Flame

Ohio House Republicans passed a ban on transgender youth playing sports by attaching the issue to an unrelated bill after 11pm on Wednesday, the first day of Pride Month.

The original bill was HB 151, a bill to “Replace Ohio Teacher Residency Program With Local Mentorship,” designed to provide Ohio teachers with greater levels of professional development and support.

At 10:35pm, at the tail end of a marathon hearing, Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) did exactly what she did last June: attached the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” abandoning the entire Ohio legislative process by not having this bill go through the standard legislative procedure of being vetted through committees .

Rep. Jena Powell, hijacking the legislative process for the second June in a row

Instead of descrying Powell’s thwarting of their own rules, her Republican colleagues stood to support the late-night hijacking.

Among them: Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) quoted Martina Navratilova and Caitlin Jenner and Rep. Sara Caruthers (R-Hamilton) declared “I support trans. I got no issue with trans.”

On the Democratic side, representatives were outraged.

Rep. Phillip Robinson (D-Solon) noted that the amendment had neither proponent nor opponent testimony, and that there has been zero complaints registered in Ohio regarding trans youth participation in sports.

“This is an issue searching for a problem that doesn’t exist,” Robinson said.

Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) labeled the issue a “made up controversy” and highlighted the part of the amendment that could subject youth to invasive physical exams if someone questions their gender.

“Any girl who looks a little too masculine or any boy who looks a little too feminine has to be subjected to this?” Liston asked.

Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) stressed how Powell violated House regulations in attaching an amendment to a completely unrelated bill. He too forcefully called out his Republican colleagues.

“There is no problem,” Brown said. “This is not a real problem. This is a made-up, ‘let’s feed red meat to the base problem.’”

A motion to table the amendment failed.

The amendment then was passed by a vote of 56-28, resulting in the “Save Women’s Sports Act” being attached to HB 151.

A vote was then immediately held on HB 151 and it passed by a vote of 56-28.

The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for a vote. Last year, the Senate rejected the amendment and passed the original legislation without the Save Women’s Sports Act.

Reaction from Ohio LGBTQ+ orgs was swift and condemning.

“The health and safety of our youth are not negotiable. This should not be a partisan issue, and we are appalled that our lawmakers are once again causing real harm to LGBTQ+ youth to score political points,” Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio said in a statement. “All Ohio youth deserve the opportunity to play on a sports team with their peers without having to hide who they are.”

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