COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As the spotlight shined Wednesday on both sides of the Ohio Legislature for passing a bill letting teachers carry guns in schools in one day, lawmakers also passed another controversial measure inside a different bill.
The Save Women’s Sports Act — added inside of Substitute House Bill 151 on the same day as the start of Pride Month — would require schools and universities to “designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.” While it does allow for co-ed teams for co-ed sports, it also bans anyone “of the male sex” to participate in any women’s sport in schools or interscholastic sports.
Sub. HB 151 also includes a line that requires a transgender person, or participant whose “sex is disputed,” to prove their sex with a signed physician’s statement including information about their “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” their testosterone levels and an analysis of their genetic makeup.
While House Bill 151 — sponsored by Republican Rep. Don Jones — was originally intended to just make changes to the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, Republican Rep. Jena Powell introduced an amendment to the bill to ban transgender athletes from women’s sports before it passed.
“All these girls ask for is a fair shot, and to be given the chance to play and win by the rules in the sports that they love,” Powell said. “The opportunity is being ripped from them by biological males.”
Protections for schools that follow the ban against transgender athletes come in the bill as well, saying no state government branch, accrediting or athletic organization can investigate, take complaints or take action against a school for following the rule.
One such group, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, has an existing policy for transgender athletes that allowed them to play in a girls sport or team with requirements to ensure fairness. A transgender girl has to complete one year of hormone treatment for gender transition, or demonstrate to the OHSAA executive director that they don’t have “physical (bone structure, muscle mass, testosterone, hormonal, etc.) or physiological advantages over genetic females of the same age group.”
This is not the first time that Powell tried to tuck a policy banning transgender athletes from women’s sports in existing legislation. Senate Bill 187, which focused on letting athletes sign endorsement deals for their name, image and likeness, saw a similar amendment to ban transgender athletes added by Powell in the Ohio House after the original bill passed the Senate unanimously. That changed bill died when it went back to senators for a concurrence vote. A standalone bill the previous year failed, too.
While the Ohio House and Senate’s schedule said they had sessions again on June 8, the legislature confirmed to NBC4 Thursday that they are not going to hold them. With that in mind, although representatives passed Sub. HB 151, senators won’t get their hands on it until Sept. 21 at the earliest.