Ohio house passes bill to protect women's sports

Proponents argue that HB 183 addresses safety concerns, while critics contend it discriminates against transgender individuals.

On April 10, a bill that would ban “transgender” students from using the bathroom and locker room that matches with their self-claimed gender identity passed out of the Ohio House Higher Education Committee by a 10-5 party line vote. Sponsored by State Reps. Beth Lear and Adam Bird, House Bill 183 mandates that Ohio K-12 schools and colleges enforce bathroom and locker room usage based on students’ sex assigned at birth, sparking renewed debate over transgender rights in educational institutions. 

Proponents argue that HB 183 addresses safety concerns, while critics contend it discriminates against transgender individuals. State Rep. Gayle Manning expressed hope for further discussions on the bill but ultimately voted in favor, citing concerns over potential legal liabilities and rising tuition costs in higher education institutions. 

[RELATED: Harvard Crimson Editorial Board says male participation in women’s sports is simply not an ‘issue’]

Conversely, State Rep. Joe Miller vocalized his opposition, asserting that the bill impedes schools’ ability to ensure equitable access for all students and has “hope that this doesn’t see the floor and doesn’t see the governor’s desk.” 

Transgender advocates, including Trans Ohio Board Member Carson Hartlage and Dion Manley, Ohio’s first openly transgender public official, condemned the bill’s passage, emphasizing its adverse impact on transgender and nonbinary students’ well-being. Hartlage stated, “Most trans nonbinary and gender nonconforming students only begin using restrooms that align with their gender identities after they’ve experienced some form of trauma when using a restroom that aligns with their sex assigned at birth.” 

[RELATED: New Hampshire Senate passes bill to protect girls’ sports]

There have been multiple reports of girls in school experiencing trauma while being exposed to males in single-sex spaces. In March of 2023, four 14-year olds were showering in the girls’ locker room in the Sun Prairie School District when a “transgender” 18-year old senior male allegedly exposed himself to the girls. 

”As a trans man I’ve been going into men’s restrooms for 25 years without incident,” said Manley. HB 183 would prevent her from entering the men’s spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms in Ohio K-12 schools. This would resemble other states that have taken steps to protect single-sex spaces such as in Florida (HB 1521), Utah (HB 257), Alabama (SB 129), and many more. 

Prior to HB 183 passing out of the Ohio House Higher Education Committee, parents and students had already been seen fighting against the allowance of trans-identifying students using bathrooms that did not align with their sex. In January of 2023, American First Legal sued dayton-area Bethel Local School District for allowing a 14 year old “transgender”  to use the girls’ restroom.