Columbus, Ohio – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the Ohio House of Representatives for passing HB 8, a bill modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill, and HB 68, which, as amended, would prohibit gender affirming care for transgender youth as well as ban transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
The Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee left no time for public comment on HB 8 after the addition of amendments targeting LGBTQ+ Ohioans. These amendments added a definition of sex that reduces youth to their genitalia and reproductive capacity. Additionally, the bill explicitly requires that any child in the Ohio public school system who questions their gender identity be immediately outed to their parents, without exception.
Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Legal Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:
“By passing these discriminatory bills, Ohio house lawmakers have chosen to reject the medical consensus by restricting access to age-appropriate, best practice care for transgender youth. In addition, Ohio is following in Florida’s footsteps in ensuring that their education system actively harms and disenfranchises LGTBQ+ youth. HB 8 and HB 68 would deny LGBTQ+ kids the ability to see themselves reflected in the curriculum and deny them a welcoming, safe environment to learn—all in service of pushing them further to the margins and violating the fundamental right to equality in public schools. We call on the Ohio Senate to uphold the rights of LGBTQ+ students by rejecting HB 8 and HB 68 and reaffirming Ohio’s public schools as places built to serve all students.”
THE FACTS: Gender-Affirming Care
Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person. Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.
This is why majorities of Americans oppose criminalizing or banning gender affirming care. Two recent national surveys report that majorities of Americans oppose “criminalizing” or “banning” gender transition-related medical care for minors: 54% oppose (NPR/Marist on 3/20-23, 2023); 53% oppose (Grinnell College National Survey on 3/14-19, 2023). Democrats and Independents drive opposition to such legislation, suggesting that support for such bans carries risk in a general election context.
Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity. Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor. Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child. In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
None of this care is irreversible.
Being transgender is not new. Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years. But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass. And very few transgender people change their mind.
ALL gender-affirming care is age-appropriate, medically necessary, supported by all major medical organizations, made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents. And in many cases, this care is lifesaving: A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.
For more information, please visit hrc.org/transgender as well as these resources:
THE FACTS: Anti-Transgender Sports Bans
A majority of Americans oppose discriminatory bills seeking to ban transgender and non-binary youth from participation in sports. A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states. And a poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”
Advocates for women and girls in sports support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. This includes the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others — including prominent female athletes like Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources devoted to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them. And nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups oppose sports bans. Groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.
In 2022, lawmakers introduced 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law. 19 states exclude transgender athletes in school sports.
For more information, please access the following resources on HRC’s website:
THE FACTS: Anti-LGBTQ+ Book Bans & Curriculum Censorship
Anti-LGBTQ+ legislators are targeting LGBTQ+ youth by attempting to silence, erase, and isolate them through curriculum censorship, book bans, and other divisive tactics. But poll after poll indicates that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to these efforts to punish and target LGBTQ+ youth. In 2020, eight of the 10 books that received the most challenges to use in libraries and schools were based on LGBTQ+ subjects or narratives, according to the American Library Association’s annual ranking of books that were banned or protested in schools and public libraries.
Majorities of Americans disapprove of banning LGBTQ+ content in schools. When asked if middle school libraries should include materials related to “gender identity” (57% “should”) and “sexual orientation” (56%), majorities of Americans believe this content should be available. In fact, by a margin of 32 percentage points, Americans are more worried that “materials that could be valuable to students will be removed from school libraries” (62%), than worry that “materials that could be harmful to students will remain in school libraries” (30%). Yet again, Democrats and Independents are in a different place than their GOP counterparts suggesting headaches for Republicans in the 2024 elections. (Grinnell College National Poll, 3/14-19, 2023)
Voters appear poised to punish candidates who are pushing book bans and curriculum censorship. Based on recent polling (Ipsos, 4/24-25, 2023 among 1,005 adults nationwide, the vast majority of whom are registered to vote), more than six-in-ten Americans say they would be less likely to back a candidate who “supports policies that ban books in schools and in school libraries on subject matter that deals with sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” (38% more likely, 62% less likely). It is also worth noting that the intensity is on the backlash side – 15% say they are “much more likely” to back a candidate who espouses these views, while 41% say it makes them “much less likely” to support such a person. These numbers are in line with the likelihood of backing a candidate who wants to “severely restrict abortion access” (35% more likely, 65% less likely).
By a 60-point margin, Americans oppose banning books in public schools. When described as “a growing push to remove certain books from schools across the country, including the graphic novel Maus about the Holocaust, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, and 1984,” more than three in four Americans oppose the banning of books in public schools (16 percent support – 76 percent oppose). Opposition is strong across partisanship, with opposition from almost four in five Republicans (78 percent) and about three in four Democrats and Independents (74 and 76 percent, respectively). [Navigator poll, 2/17-22]
Curriculum censorship policies aim to prevent the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues or people in education settings. This means teachers would be prevented from providing a safe, inclusive classroom for all students. Laws like those in Florida blocks teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people, further stigmatizing LGBTQ+ people and isolating LGBTQ+ kids. It also undermines existing protections for LGBTQ+ students. Other laws like those in Alabama bans any acknowledgement of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms from kindergarten through fifth grade.
LGBTQ+ kids already face real threats and obstacles. 86% of LGBTQ+ youth report they have been targets of bullying, harassment or assault at school. Studies have shown that bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ youth contribute to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic underachievement. A recent Trevor Project survey showed that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by the current wave of legislative attacks. “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” and “Stop WOKE” are vile examples of state-sponsored discrimination, bullying and harassment. Studies clearly demonstrate the harms for LGBTQ+ youth mental health when they are denied affirming and protective school environments.
Poll after poll indicates that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to these efforts to punish and target LGBTQ+ youth via curriculum censorship. Seventy-one percent of likely voters – including 66 percent of Independents and 64 percent of Republicans – believe that local school boards should not have the authority to ban books from school curriculums [Data for Progress poll, 2/11-13]. Based on National Parents Union’s national polling and meetings with parents all over the country, Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the organization, says restricting how teachers can talk about race or gender "is really at the bottom of the list" of parental priorities. [National Parents Union]
Voters rejected attacks on school curriculums in the 2022 midterm elections. The 2022 midterms showed that attacks on school curriculums — specifically on critical race theory and so-called gender ideology — largely were a dud in the general election. According to an HRC post-election poll, less than 5% of voters identified gender affirming care for trans youth or trans participation in sports as issues motivating them to vote, the last on the list. Anti-LGBTQ+ groups like American First Legal and American Principles Project — led by people like Stephen Miller, known as the architect behind some of Trump’s most xenophobic and anti-immigration policies — poured tens of millions of dollars into advertising and mailers across the country, in support of candidates in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas; those investments fell flat, as nearly all of their supported candidates lost their bids for elected office, including people like Tudor Dixon, who pushed anti-trans rhetoric in the days before pro-equality Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer clinched reelection victory.
THE FACTS: 2023 Becoming Worst Year On Record for Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation
So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 530 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. A total of 74 pieces of legislation have been enacted into law this year. More than 225 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date. This year, HRC is tracking:
More than 125 gender-affirming care bans — bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, 16 have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Florida, and Nebraska
More than 30 anti-transgender bathroom bills filed;
More than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship bills, and;
45 anti-LGBTQ+ drag performance ban bills.
Americans believe the amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is excessive, agreeing it is “political theater.” Likely voters across all political parties look at GOP efforts to flood state legislatures with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as political theater. Recent polling indicates that 64% of all likely voters, including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans think that there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” (Data For Progress survey of 1,220 likely voters, 3/24-26, 2023).
By comparison, last year in 2022 politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 29 of which were enacted into law. These efforts — the result of a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes seeking to slander, malign, and stigmatize LGBTQ+ people — only yielded a less than 10% success rate, as more than 90% of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were defeated. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children. By the end of the 2022 state legislative season, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children were enacted into law.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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