During their Jan. 24 session, the Ohio State Senate overrode Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68, a two-part bill that will affect transgender people in the state of Ohio. The bill is a combination of the Stop Ohio Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act and the Save Women’s Sports Act, which restrict transgender healthcare and transgender athletes respectively.
Governor DeWine’s veto of the bill was criticized by Ohio lawmakers, even as DeWine signed an executive order banning surgeries on transgender minors shortly after. The bill will go into effect in April.
At The College of Wooster, the bill will ban transgender athletes from playing on teams of their gender identity, as well as bar transgender athletes from out-of-state schools from participating in Ohio games and matches. On Jan. 29, the Office of Sexuality and Gender Inclusion (SGI) and the athletics department held an informational session on House Bill 68, where they also described the timeline of events leading up to the bill’s passage. Speaking at this session was Jake Marion, director of sexuality and gender inclusion, along with Libby Ladrach, associate director of athletics.
Marion told the Voice that SGI and Athletics are currently working with the NCAC commissioner “as the conference determines what best practice is going to be moving forward.” Marion also noted that the athletics department and SGI worked on a Safe Spaces training last semester, which was organized by coach Elizabeth Ford. “[The session] really proved to us how dedicated Athletics is to supporting the queer and trans athletes on campus,” Marion said.
Lynn Holleran, athletics director at Wooster, said in a statement to the Voice that “discussions have included the specifics of the bill and ways to support our students and those across Ohio.”
“Wooster is a community that welcomes and supports a diverse population of students,” Holleran said. “The athletics department is committed to working with SGI and our entire campus community to support our transgender students.”
Much like House Bill 68, other pending bills targeting transgender people and campus gender inclusion in Ohio could have an effect on college campuses. House Bill 183, currently in committee in the State House of Representatives, would bar transgender people in high schools and colleges from using restrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
Senate Bill 83, or the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act, would withhold state funds from state institutions until they pledge to make diversity, equity, and inclusion optional. Senate Bill 83 has passed the Ohio state Senate and is in committee in the Ohio state House.
On Jan. 29, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio released a statement regarding House Bill 68 – they will be filing a lawsuit challenging the provision of the bill which aims to restrict gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. The ACLU’s statement emphasized that “hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria in youth is evidence-based, medically necessary, and backed by major medical associations across the nation.”
“HB 68 is not only cruel; it violates the Ohio Constitution and must be challenged,” Freda Levenson, a legal director at ACLU added.