Above: Now-Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine speaks at a news conference in 2018.
The Ohio Legislature has voted to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68, which protects children from sex-change surgeries, cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers, as well as prohibiting males from competing in women’s sports. The override passed 23-9 in the Senate and 65-28 in the House. The legislation is set to take effect in April.
With HB 68, Ohio joins a group of over 20 other states that have already passed similar legislation.
Opponents of the bill argue that the government should not have its hand in the medical decisions that parents, children and medical professionals make together. Sen. Kent Smith said a mother who approached him was “in tears about her 9-year-old trans child before the third sentence was out of her mouth. … Parents are scared for their families and for their kids and their futures here in Ohio, and they should be.”
But Sen. Steve Huffman pointed out that the government already tells parents when their children can smoke, “when a child can drive a car, when they have to go to school, what hours they can work. So this isn’t any different.” He also pointed out that though there aren’t many biologically male transgender athletes competing in Ohio, their ability to compete against females affects all of the girls or women playing with them, not just the transgender athletes themselves—and this bill would protect women both now and in the future.
Sen. Theresa Gavarone called out what she called “astounding” hypocrisy.
“I’ve been here long enough to remember the deafening silence from the other side of the aisle when the government shut down schools, businesses and even wanted a vaccine requirement for Americans to work,” she stated. “But apparently the government stepping in to make sure kids don’t mutilate their bodies is a step too far for the same people.”
At the beginning of the discussion of the bill, Sen. Kristina Roegner was interrupted by a protestor who sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and screamed, “Jesus loves every child, no matter what their sexual identity is.” She continued to shout as she was escorted out of the senate chamber, “I stand, and you should stand for the children of Ohio.”
In their statements that followed, several senators referenced what the woman had said said. “Yes, I would agree,” Sen. Jerry Cirino stated, “Jesus loves the little children. … And that same Jesus has determined the gender of each and every child. Let’s respect, truly, what Jesus would like.” Sen. George Lang added that Jesus also loves all of the women who compete in sports.
The bill does not prohibit transgender treatment for adults. “We’re not saying you can’t, we’re saying you’ve got to take a breath and wait until you’re a little older,” Sen. Shane Wilkin said.
Some transgender clinics in Ohio children’s hospitals see children as young as 3 years old. While some LGBTQ proponents argued against House Bill 68 in the name of preserving parental rights to make decisions with and for their kids, school districts around the country (including at least three in Ohio) are enacting policies allowing district employees to keep a child’s transgender status secret from their parents.
Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS