Resolution vote about transgender students by state education board moved to October

The State Board of Education moved a vote and further discussion on a resolution by board member Brendan Shea that opposes some proposed Title IX regulations from the U.S. Department of Education withholding federal funding if local schools discriminate against LGBTQ+ students.

The board is expected to further discuss and vote on the resolution at the Oct. 12 meeting.

Shea’s resolution is written specifically to oppose regulations against transgender students, though the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed guidelines involve all LGBTQ+ youth. The resolution would replace some of the federal funding that Ohio schools would be losing out on if they are opposed to the resolution and calls on the state’s legislature to pass further laws around transgender students. Some of that federal funding would include school lunch funding.

Critics of the resolution said it was scientifically incorrect and does not support the needs of children, particularly transgender students.

Ohio school board president Charlotte McGuire said it was standard procedure for all newly introduced resolutions to be voted on at the next month’s meeting and discussion could not take place until a member moved to vote.

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About 50 people spoke against the resolution Tuesday morning out of the total of more than 60 people who came to address the board on the topic. Many of the people who spoke against the resolution were transgender themselves or had family members and loved ones who were transgender, but there were also doctors, pastors, an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and a Capital University law professor.

In the resolution, Shea claims in part that sex is biological and defined at birth by chromosomes.

“Denying the reality of biological sex destroys foundational truths upon which education rests and irreparably damages children,” the resolution reads.

But Shea specifically mentioned only male and female chromosomes in his resolution and did not include the variety of chromosomes that can also appear in intersex people, who are not biologically male or female, something that multiple people testifying took issue with.

Shea responded to criticism of that argument by saying there are people born with 10 fingers and toes, but there are also people who do not have that same number.

“Whereby some humans are born with more or less fingers or toes does it negate the fact that when we speak about humans, we speak about them as having 10 fingers and 10 toes?” Shea said

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Shea said the resolution was an attempt to stand up for women and girls, whom he said Title IX was originally intended for.

Four members of the state board - Christina Collins, Meryl Johnson, Michelle Newman and Antoinette Miranda – have released a joint statement opposing the resolution.

“We are not and should never be in the business of selecting which child is worthy of protection and instruction,” the joint statement said. “This resolution is a political grenade thrown into an arena that has already been overwhelmed with more politics and culture wars than actions that actually improve education.”

Collins said while she could not discuss the resolution specifically under meeting rules, she still wanted to address the public.

“I just want people across the state to know that there are people on this level who are behind them 100% and we’ll do everything we can to protect them,” Collins said.

Walt Davis, another member of the board, noted the state school board does not have enforcement power of their policies. It’s the local school boards who would need to enforce the policy, he said.

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