Ohio Republicans surprised and appalled Democrats when they added a last-minute amendment to a bipartisan bill allowing amateur athletes an option to receive compensation for their name, image, and likeness.
The amendment added text from the transgender athlete ban that had stalled in the House when Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) moved to add the language as an amendment to SB187 which had bipartisan support.
State House News reports that the bill targeting transgender children was passed by the majority-Republican House as an amendment without a public hearing.
The eleventh-hour GOP attempt prompted fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to issue a rare statement Friday against the piece of legislation that has yet to pass both chambers, before making it to his desk.
“This issue is best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association, who can tailor policies to meet the needs of their member athletes and member institutions,” DeWine said.
Ohio needs to do more to protect the LGBTQ community, said Eliana Turan, the director of development at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. There isn’t enough legislation in place to preserve the safety and rights of transgender people, she said.
“I’m very cognizant of the fact that as a trans woman, I might be denied service at a bathroom somewhere. There’s no legal remedy for me in many parts of the state,” Turan said. “Unfortunately, that’s true regarding many aspects of life, whether it’s employment or housing or what have you.”
Of about 400,000 Ohio high school athletes, five transgender girls opted to compete in women’s sports during the 2020-21 school year, according to the Ohio Capital Journal.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association allows for transgender women to compete in women’s sports with guidelines that say “Participation in interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics is a valuable part of the education experience for all students” and “Transgender student-athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has ruled in 48 cases of transgender students applying to compete since September 2015 and says and there have been only 11 transgender female approvals.
“Those 11 approvals have resulted in no disruption of competition regarding competitive equity and they have not caused any loss in female participation, championships or scholarship opportunities,” Tim Stried, a spokesperson for the association, said in a statement. “The OHSAA is confident that our policy, which is based on medical science, is appropriate to address transgender requests and works for the benefit of all student-athletes and member schools.”