At 10 p.m. on the last day Ohio lawmakers planned to work this year, Senate Republicans put together two major pieces of legislation: a bill to overhaul the Ohio Department of Education and a bill to stop transgender girls in middle and high school from playing on female sports teams.
House Bill 151 was passed in June. It says that transgender girls can’t play on high school or college teams for girls. But it had changed a lot by the time the Senate passed it Wednesday night by a vote of 23 to 7.
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said, “These are the things that Speaker (Bob) Cupp said he wanted in the bill, so we put them in the bill.” “All of the changes we made to this bill were asked for by the House. We made the changes they asked for, and now we’re here.” But around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, a group of conservative Republicans and Democrats stopped these changes from going through the House.
The Senate added a change to the House bill that would gut the Ohio Department of Education and give the governor more control over how education policy is made. Rep. Phil Robinson, D-Solon, said, “This is not how we do education in the state of Ohio.” “Passing something around at 1 or 2 in the morning that no one has seen or read.”
The bill could be sent to a committee made up of representatives from both chambers to work out a deal before the General Assembly ends on December 31. However, since the Legislature is planning to end its work this week, this is not likely to happen. Here is what the bill would do in its most recent form:
Give The Governor More Say Over How Public Schools Are Run
Most of HB 151 would have given the governor’s office control over public education in Ohio instead of the State Board of Education. Huffman said earlier this month, “This is the kind of bill that changes and will change for decades to become basic education policy in Ohio…” “I believe the time is right.”
The law used to be a separate bill called Senate Bill 178, but it ran into problems in the House. As time was running out, Senate Republicans decided to add it to House Bill 151, which is about transgender athletes.
The amendment would change the name of the Ohio Department of Education to the Department of Education and Workforce and create a new director who would be chosen by the governor and then approved by the Senate within 45 days. The state superintendent is in charge of the department right now. He or she is chosen by the state education board.
The job would still be there, but most of the responsibilities of the state board and superintendent would be given to the new director position. With a concurrent resolution, the legislature could overturn any rule made by the new director, and public schools couldn’t make students get the COVID-19 vaccine. It would also mean that home-schooled kids wouldn’t have to take tests or be graded by a certified teacher.
Transgender Girls Play On Teams For Women
Ember Zelch, who is 17 years old, could still try out to be the catcher for her softball team next spring, but other transgender girls wouldn’t have the same chance.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has permitted four transgender girls to play on female sports teams this school year, including the Chagrin Falls senior. The seniors would still be able to play if this bill were changed, but all other players would be banned.
To show that testosterone levels have dropped below certain levels, OHSAA needs at least a year of hormone therapy and blood tests. And every year, the girls have to reapply. Since 2015, the organization has permitted 15 transgender girls to play on female teams and three transgender girls to play on high school teams. About 400,000 students play sports.
But HB 151 would change these rules by making it illegal for transgender girls in high school to join teams for girls. The rule that applied to universities and colleges was taken away. The Senate also got rid of a controversial part of the bill that would have made any girl whose gender was in question get a pelvic exam. But Ember Zelch and her mother, Minna Zelch, were very against it, even with that change.
Ember Zelch isn’t trying to get any kind of sports scholarship, and she thinks that a lot of transgender girls are the same way. “There are two things I get from playing softball, and the biggest is a community: a place to get to know people and just relax after school,” she said. “For a while, I don’t think about life.”
She also likes getting some exercise and being outside. She said that sports are about a lot more than just getting medals. Her mother also said that she thinks Republicans are trying to “get a few political points on the backs of our kids.” Minna Zelch said, “If you cared about girls’ sports, you might do something about the fact that girls still don’t have fair facilities.” “My daughter plays on a field at her elementary school that floods every time it rains, but the boys have two brand-new fields that are beautiful.”
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