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Bill to ban biological males from girls’ sports teams fails in Ohio General Assembly

A bill that would have banned biological males from playing on girls’ sports teams in Ohio failed to pass in the state’s General Assembly last Thursday.

The amended bill, which cleared the state Senate 23-7 before it narrowly fell in the state House, would also have given the governor greater power over the state Department of Education and banned discrimination against students based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

Republican state Rep. Jena Powell introduced the transgender student-athlete amendment to the bill, which was originally intended to address the Ohio Teacher Residency Program.

The amendment said no school or athletic conference “shall permit individuals of the male sex to participate on athletic teams or in athletic competitions designated only for participants of the female sex.”

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A provision in the bill that would have mandated students undergo “internal and external” exams to determine their biological sex was taken out of the bill earlier this month. A subsequent provision was also removed that would have required student athletes whose “sex is disputed” to prove their biological sex with a birth certificate.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, though he voiced support for overhauling education oversight, has previously expressed his opinion that Ohio legislators should not be addressing the issue of transgender students in sports.

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“This issue is best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association, who can tailor policies to meet the needs of their member athletes and member institutions,” DeWine has said.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has said there is no evidence that biological males who identify as transgender are posing a problem, and that there are few transgender student athletes in the state.

There have been 15 transgender student-athletes in Ohio since the 2015-2016 school year, with seven transgender females in high school sports and eight transgender females at the seventh- and eighth-grade level, according to the association.

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Despite the bill’s failure, some form of it could be taken up again during the next legislative session, when Republicans will hold a firmer majority in the state House of Representatives. Republicans presently hold 64 of the House’s 99 seats, and will pick up three more next year.

Addressing the issue of biological males competing in female sports has featured prominently on the agenda of Republican state legislatures nationwide.

Eighteen states have banned transgender students from competing on teams that align with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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