COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — LGBTQ+ advocates kept a watchful eye as Ohio’s General Assembly failed to pass a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports, part of a long legislative session lasting well into Thursday morning.
“The fact that this just keeps becoming a topic of conversation at the statehouse feels so like, it’s such a waste of time,” said Maria Bruno, Public Policy Director for Equality Ohio.
Bruno said the attempts to pass legislation, titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” is hurtful. The act requires 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, the bill bans anyone “of the male sex” to participate in any women’s sport in schools or interscholastic sports.
However, proponents saud it is about protecting the integrity of female sports.
“We’re making sure that our daughters and our granddaughters our nieces are going to compete against other ladies and other females,” said Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) during on the Ohio House floor.
Amanda Erickson with Kaleidoscope Youth Center said it’s a relief to see the legislation fail. This week has been difficult for LGBTQ+ youth, she said. In addition to the act, the State Board of Education passed a resolution that rejects protections for LGBTQ+ students.
“I think for us it’s about you know simplifying that message and clarifying what’s actually going to happen as these types of things do or do not pass,” said Erickson.
This is not the first time legislation like the act has been introduced, and Bruno said she expects to fight it again next session in 2023.
“We very much anticipate that a lot of the things we were fighting this year we’ll be fighting again next year and we hope we’re wrong — to be clear I really hope this doesn’t come again. I’d rather never talk about it with them again, but we just know better than to expect that,” said Bruno.
NBC4 reached out to Rep. Jena Powell who introduced the legislation this year, but her office did not respond.