COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — House Bill 6, named the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” has been reintroduced at the Ohio Statehouse and named among priority legislation.
Led by Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum), the bill has 30 Republican co-sponsors and would ban transgender girls from participating in female sports. The idea for the “Save Women’s Sports” Act first arose in 2020 then was officially introduced a year later. The bill failed to pass the general assembly late last year.
“I know it’s just introduction, and we will fight it tooth and nail,” said the Public Policy Director for Equality Ohio, Maria Bruno. “But, it’s upsetting we have to do this again after we just did it two months ago.”
When the bill was first introduced, it required genital inspections for “athletes in question.” Last year, that provision was removed and replaced with a provision requiring proof of sex by birth certificate. Now, neither of those provisions is in the new text of the bill.
“It’s much better,” said Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill). “There are 18 states that have passed similar legislation and we’ve been able to work off some of the language that’s been adopted there.”
“The fact that HB6 has been introduced and introduced as a piece of priority legislation is a step back for Ohio, regardless if it includes genital inspections,” said the Director of External Affairs at Equitas Health, Rhea Debussy.
However, Powell said in a statement the issue is about “fairness.”
“We cannot allow girls’ dreams of being a gold medal athlete to be crushed by biological males stealing their opportunities,” she said.
The legislation would allow an athlete to sue for relief or damages if they are “deprived” of an athletic opportunity by a transgender girl.
“No one has the right to be a champion,” Bruno said. “That’s the whole point of competitive sports.”
This legislation would also prohibit a government or athletic association from taking action against schools that enforce the ban. According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, there are six transgender females certified by their office to participate in high school sports for the 2022-23 school year, three of who are playing this spring season.
“We know that just the mere introduction of this legislation has, in fact, a negative health impact on LGBTQ kids and especially trans kids in the state,” Debussy said.
In Powell’s statement, she points to Connecticut as an example of why this legislation is necessary.
“For example, in Connecticut, nine different girls used to hold the 15 women’s state championship titles,” she said. “In 2020, those 15 titles were all held by two different biological males.”
Still, opponents of the bill argue that the bill is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Higher Education. The committee is meeting on Wednesday, but a hearing for the bill is not on the agenda.