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Ohio ban on transgender youth sports, health care clears House panel

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Transgender student-athletes in Ohio would be banned from participating in girls' and women's sports and minors would be prohibited from receiving gender-affirming care under a multifaceted proposal that cleared a state House panel Wednesday.

The measure folds together two contentious bills in the Republican-dominated House that could drastically change the way LGBTQ+ youth live in the state.

The proposal would require K-12 schools as well as universities to designate “separate teams” for male and female sexes, but explicitly ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports while leaving the door open for transgender athletes to play on male or co-ed teams.

Supporters said the sports ban is about fairness in competition and maintaining the “integrity of women’s sports,” while opponents said the bill is cruel to children who just want to play sports and build friendships with teammates who align with their gender identity.

Minors in Ohio would also be prohibited from taking puberty blockers and undergoing other hormone therapies or receiving gender reassignment surgery in an effort to further align them with their gender identity.

Should the bill become law, doctors who violate it could lose their licenses to practice. Transgender children currently undergoing hormone therapies would have to stop treatment or leave the state.

Those who support the ban said it's important to put off treatments and surgeries until legal adulthood because children under 18 cannot provide “informed consent.”

But parents of transgender children who have testified against the bill say it's none of the Legislature's business and that medical decisions for transgender children should be left up to their families and doctors.

The proposal could head to a full vote by the House as soon as next week.