COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers are proposing a bill banning transgender students from using a restroom aligned with their gender identity at schools and universities. 

House Bill 183 would prohibit schools from allowing trans students to use a bathroom that doesn’t correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth. The bill states institutions are required to set separate facilities based on a student’s “biological sex,” meaning “the sex listed on a person’s official birth record.”

“No school shall permit a member of the female biological sex to use a student restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room that has been designated by the school for the exclusive use of the male biological sex,” the bill states. 

Rep. Beth Lear (R-Galena) and Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) introduced the bill at the Statehouse on Tuesday with 19 Republican co-sponsors. Bird said he has heard from constituents requesting a bill like HB 183

“We want to provide safety for our daughters, our granddaughters here in Ohio,” he said. “When someone walks into a bathroom, they expect it to be a place of safety and not worrying about whether a man is walking into that restroom.”

HB 183 also prohibits schools from letting students share overnight accommodations with students of the opposite “biological sex.” Institutions would still be allowed to offer single-use facilities and the bill would not apply to children under 10 being assisted by a family member, or to someone helping a student with a disability.

Bird told NBC4 that parents and students have complained about the issue, and said they’re often afraid to talk about it publicly out of fear of criticism. He said he believes a majority of Ohioans think the bill is warranted.

“There are students in Ohio who are afraid to speak out,” Bird said. “They feel intimidated that if they object to men or boys in the girls’ restroom, that if they say something then they’ll be canceled, they’ll be criticized.”

However, Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said he has not heard of a single incident across Ohio where students are concerned or are complaining about the issue.

“For the first time in Ohio history, our population decreased, people are moving out of the state and I think its a direct reflection of the policies we’re pushing here,” Weinstein said.

The legislation marks the first statewide proposal in Ohio aiming to restrict bathroom use by trans students. However, the debate has been elevated to a federal court in Ohio after Dayton-area parents and students sued a school district for allowing trans students to use communal restrooms consistent with their gender identity. 

The November filing argues that restrooms should only be shared by persons of the same biological sex “for a variety of reasons, including safety, privacy, modesty, religion and historical views of sex.” A study from the UCLA School of Law found no evidence that allowing trans people to use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks.

HB 183 is part of a record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed nationwide in 2023. The Buckeye State is one of nearly two dozen states introducing hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in legislatures across the nation. 

House Bill 6 — the “Save Women’s Sports Act” — passed out of the Higher Education Committee on Wednesday and now heads to a floor vote in the Ohio House of Representatives. The bill would bar trans girls from taking part in female athletics and override the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s trans student-athlete policy adopted during the 2015-16 school year.

House Bill 68 — the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act” — received a third hearing at the Statehouse on Wednesday. The bill would bar healthcare professionals from providing treatment known as gender-affirming care to trans children in the state. Violating physicians would be disciplined by the state medical board and could face legal action from the state’s attorney general.