More than 100 opponents to transgender bathroom bill testify at Statehouse

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Credit: Avery Kreemer

About 110 people testified Wednesday against House Bill 183, which would require students to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate. No proponents were listed as testifying Wednesday, though the bill’s sponsors previously spoke last week.

Church leaders, school board members, LGBTQ+ activists and members of the general public all submitted testimony to the Ohio House’s Higher Education Committee, which is overseeing the bill.

Rep. Beth Lear and Rep. Adam Bird, both Republicans, are the co-sponsors of the bill. They argue the bill protects young people from the opposite gender.

“What about truth? What about reality?” Lear said in introducing the bill. “Boys cannot become girls and girls cannot become boys. You can dress up and pretend, but you cannot change your DNA.”

Maria Bruno, public policy director for Equality Ohio, argued that if passed, the bill would be a nightmare to enforce. It would also go against decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020 and conflicts with Title IX rules, Bruno said.

“Imagine vigilante ‘hall monitors’ demanding to see original birth certificates or school employees insisting on inspecting genitalia before allowing access to locker rooms,” Bruno said. “Such enforcement mechanisms create a hostile and unsafe environment for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.”

Rev. Alice Connor of the Dioceses of the Episcopal Church in Ohio also testified against the bill. She said the voices of religious people who are for bills like this one did not represent her views or the views of many of the faithful people she knew.

“The message and life of Jesus of Nazareth was one of radical inclusion of those the people around him thought unacceptable,” Connor said. “From my faith and from the faith of thousands and thousands of other people, trans people are made in the image and likeness of God exactly as they are. That is, they are made in the image and likeness of God as trans people.”

Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, one of the two major teachers’ unions in Ohio, said the bill distracts from policies that would help educators.

“OEA recommends the Ohio General Assembly exert more focus on finding solutions that support students, educators, and public schools, and that address the real facility needs and construction funding challenges faced by Ohio’s public-school districts,” DiMauro said. “House Bill 183 needlessly targets an already marginalized class of students, while failing to address the real challenges faced by Ohio’s public schools.”

Micah Mitchell of the ACLU of Ohio also argued the law would be unwieldy if passed into law and difficult to enforce, as well as discriminatory against transgender and intersex folks.

“Let us be clear: we at the ACLU of Ohio believe that transgender women are women, transgender men are men, and all students deserve equal access to public facilities that align with who they are,” Mitchell said.

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