Ohio lawmakers amended a bill Tuesday that stops biological men and boys from high school and middle school from participating in women and girls’ sports. The amendment removed a provision that could have required students to undergo “internal and external” exams to verify their sex.
Instead, House Bill (HB) 151, The Save Women’s Sports Act, sponsored by State Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) (pictured above), now would require an athlete whose biological gender is disputed to present a birth certificate under the amendment adopted by the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee.
According to Powell, The Save Women’s Sports Act is an issue of fairness for women.
“Across our country, female athletes are currently losing championships, scholarship opportunities, medals, education and training opportunities, and more to discriminatory policies that allow biological males to compete in girls’ sports. All these girls ask for is a fair shot, and to be given the chance to play and win by the rules in the sports that they love. The opportunity is being ripped from them by biological males,” Powell said.
The amendment also no longer includes collegiate sports. Lawmakers also eliminated a portion of the original legislation that permitted girls to sue in civil court if transgender girls were playing on a team under a claim that they had been deprived of an athletic opportunity or caused to suffer other harm.
Before the amendment on Tuesday, HB 151 required a physician to sign a statement establishing the athlete’s gender through “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” “normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone,” and an “analysis of the participant’s genetic makeup.” In analyzing the bill, the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission, which helps lawmakers to write and analyze bills, could not determine whether the statement must be based on one or all three examination methods.
Conservatives such as Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Center for Christian Virtue President Aaron Baer both called the examination provision unnecessary and unhelpful to their goal of preventing transgender men from participating in women’s sports.
“That was in an error when it was in the amendment in the House. So, there is no objection to take it out; in fact, there [are] members who encourage it to come out,” Cupp said.
The bill will still require middle and high schools to “designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.” While it allows co-ed teams for co-ed sports, it also bans anyone “of the male sex” from participating in any women’s sport in schools or interscholastic sports.
Proponents of the legislation, such as Ohio Value Voters (OVV), say that those born biologically male have more muscle strength, can run faster, and can have many other physical advantages to biological females.
“Our organization believes that God created two sexes, male and female. Those that are born biological males have a unique advantage in strength and stamina over biological females,” President of OVV John Stover said.
For example, the state’s fastest recorded time for the men’s 100-meter dash is 10.38 seconds in 2006 by Brandon Saine. The current world record for the women’s 100-meter dash, meanwhile, is 10.49 seconds from legendary sprinter Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith-Joyner in 1988.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has a policy that allows biological males to play on a girl’s team if they have either completed a year of hormone treatment related to their transition or have demonstrated through sound medical evidence that they don’t possess physical or physiological advantages over genetic females, including bone structure, muscle mass, testosterone, and hormonal advantages. The policy says if a child takes hormones that, a physician must monitor them and submit regular reports about their eligibility to participate.
The OHSAA said that this policy is the best solution for everyone involved.
“The OHSAA believes that our current transgender policy is effective in protecting the integrity of girls’ sports while also providing participation opportunities for the highly vulnerable group of transgender students,” the statement read.
Lawmakers amended the Save Womens Sports Act with a vote of 5-1. The House Primary and Secondary Committee has not voted on whether to send the bill ahead for a vote in the full chamber. If the Senate adopts the amended bill, it would have to return to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]