House GOP member reintroduces bill to deny gender-affirming healthcare to Ohio youth

Posted at 1:48 PM, Feb 22, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio bill to limit healthcare for LGBTQ+ youth that was postponed by Republican lawmakers in November was reintroduced Wednesday morning, a Republican representative announced at a news conference.

Rep. Gary Click, a Republican from Vickery, reintroduced the SAFE Act to the 135th General Assembly after the bill that bans doctors from performing sex reassignment surgery on minors failed to pass last year.

RELATED: Ohio lawmakers postpone bill that limits health care for LGBTQ+ youth

Click said at a news conference Wednesday morning that the bill does not deny health care to transgender students, arguing that 85% to 95% of kids who feel they are trapped in the body of someone of the opposite gender outgrow that feeling as an adult, reports Jo Ingles, a reporter and producer for the Statehouse News Bureau.

News 5’s Morgan Trau reported last year that the bill was written without a basic understanding of the people it would impact and that Click had never spoken to any members of the trans community before authoring, introducing or giving testimony on the bill.

RELATED: Leaked audio shows Ohio rep. introducing bill to limit affirming care had never spoken to trans community

Based on Ingles’ reporting from Wednesday’s news conference, the reintroduced SAFE Act is largely unchanged from last year’s version and would require hospitals to report anonymous data about gender reassignment diagnoses, in addition to denying gender reassignment surgery and hormone blockers to minors.

RELATED: Ohio bill limiting healthcare for LGBTQ+ youth would create a type of registry of trans kids, activist says

Click said at the news conference that the bill has the support of both GOP House Speaker Jason Stephens and GOP Caucus leader Derek Merrin, with Stephens saying he considers it priority legislation.

As reported by News 5 earlier this year, Stephens won the speakership by brokering a deal with Democrats in the Ohio House, telling his colleagues from across the aisle at the time that he would work with them on issues that bring them together.

"They needed our votes and we took the opportunity to make sure that we were going to be working with the speaker who we felt at the end of the day would work with us on the issues we could agree on," Democratic Minority Leader​ Allison Russo said in January.

RELATED: 'Moderate' Republican Jason Stephens snatches Ohio House Speaker position in surprise upset

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.