ASHLAND — Late Wednesday night, Ohio House Republicans passed a bill that would prevent transgender girls from participating in female sports at the high school and college level.
But at Ashland High School, transgender athletes have yet to participate in its programs, Athletic Director Jason Goings said.
"At this point it's not an issue. We have discussed it as an administration and, you know, we would simply follow the (Ohio High School Athletic Association) regulations on the matter," Goings said.
Ashland's lack of transgender female athletes is not unique; only one transgender female athlete is currently participating in high school sports in Ohio, according to OHSAA.
Current OHSAA regulations allow transgender girls to play on female teams after a year of hormone treatments or after proving that they have no advantages over their peers.
The bill, added to House Bill 151 as the "Save Women's Sports Act," would override these existing OHSAA regulations, relegate transgender female athletes to male or co-ed teams and require athletes to submit to a physician's exam of their genitals, hormone levels and genetic makeup if their biological sex is disputed.
Goings said Ashland High School would follow the new policy if it becomes law.
Proponents of the bill argued on the House floor it is necessary to protect athletic integrity and fairness in female sports, while opponents argued it is an unnecessary bill that could harm transgender youth and subject athletes to invasive medical examinations.
Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) cited Title IX as part of the reason he voted yes on HB 151.
"Discriminatory policies violate Title IX and deny girls educational and athletic opportunities. Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is a discriminatory policy that turns back the clock over half-a-century on advances we have made for women," Kick said in a prepared statement Friday.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of Equality Ohio Alana Jochum criticized the bill as harmful and partisan in a blog post.
“The health and safety of our youth are not negotiable. This should not be a partisan issue, and we are appalled that our lawmakers are once again causing real harm to LGBTQ+ youth to score political points,” Jochum said.
The bill now has to be approved by the Ohio Senate, which is unlikely to happen before November when the legislature returns from recess.