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Ohio GOP to reintroduce bill to prohibit transgender girls from school sports

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Posted at 12:48 PM, Feb 15, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bill to prohibit transgender girls in Ohio from playing school sports will be reintroduced, GOP leaders announced on Wednesday.

The legislation, which will likely be House Bill 6, was announced as part of Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens' priorities for this legislature.

It would "protect the integrity of girls' sports and make certain that biological males cannot compete in female-only athletics," Stephens said at a press conference.

There is only one known trans high school athlete this legislation addresses. Ember, who is a softball player from Northeast Ohio, is the only transgender girl who is currently participating with cisgender girls in high school athletics, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

This bill gained national attention and widespread outrage from Democrats and Republicans after News 5 revealed there was a "verification process" of checking the genitals of those "accused" of being trans.

RELATED: Ohio GOP passes bill aiming to root out 'suspected' transgender female athletes through genital inspection

"I know that there are a lot of folks in the LGBTQ community who are sitting there asking themselves, 'What did I do to them?' because they keep coming after me,' and I can't blame them for having that perspective," Maria Bruno, legislative policy director for Equality Ohio, told News 5 when the bill passed the House last General Assembly. "But the answer is nothing, just existing."

When asked how the state planned to confirm biological sex, Stephens didn't have a clear answer.

"We are working on - or have completed the language on that," Stephens said. "I think it's much, much better — we have over 18 states that have passed similar legislation."

The GOP has been able to work with the language adopted in other states, he added. The bill from the previous G.A. failed to pass through, but the bill sponsor said she introduced it because of her theory that girls are being put at a disadvantage, despite rigorous testing to allow a transgender athlete to play with cisgender athletes.

"Across our country, female athletes are currently losing championships, scholarship opportunities, medals, education and training opportunities and more to discriminatory policies that allow biological males to compete in girls sports," H.B. 61 bill sponsor Republican state Rep. Jena Powell, from Arcanum, said while proposing the amendment adding her bill into H.B. 151.

State Rep. Dr. Beth Liston, a Democrat from Dublin, disagreed.

"There are not scores of girls' dreams being crushed, there is one child trying to play on their high school sports team," Liston said. "This is a made-up controversy, and this amendment is state-sanctioned bullying against one child."

RELATED: After national backlash, Ohio GOP leader says ‘genital inspections’ won’t be part of anti-transgender athlete bill

After passing the House, the Ohio Senate GOP killed the genital inspection portion of the bill, replacing it with birth certificate checks. It failed to get to the governor's desk.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.