House passes bill restricting transgender bathroom use in Ohio schools

“Protect All Students Act” now awaits Senate action after near party-line vote in House

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Credit: Avery Kreemer

In the waning hours of legislators’ final day of session before summer recess, the Ohio House passed a “bathroom bill” that would bar transgender students in Ohio’s public and private schools and universities from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The measure, dubbed the “Protect All Students Act,” was tacked on to an education-adjacent bill and approved 60-31 in a near party-line vote around 11 p.m. Wednesday with heated rhetoric on both sides.

State Rep. Jamie Callender, R-Concord, was the lone Republican to vote against the bill.

“This bill would keep boys in the boys restroom and girls in the girls restroom,” said Clermont County Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, who introduced the legislation in House Bill 183 earlier this general assembly and has three decades of experience in education.

Bird told his colleagues that he’s had constituents ask for the bill to ensure their children are protected in school bathrooms. He also noted that he’s had superintendents from around Ohio ask for the state to provide clarity on what schools should do when it comes to transgender bathroom policy.

If the bill is approved by the Senate later this year, it would require that all schools (private and public, K-12 and higher education) designate facilities for the exclusive use of biological males and females, among other things.

Republicans argued that the bulk of Ohioans are in favor of such a simple piece of legislation. House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, flatly pushed back against that idea after House session.

Gahanna Democrat Rep. Beryl Piccolantonio, who served on her local school board before recently assuming a role in the Ohio House, characterized the measure as an example of the state overstepping its power.

“Before I was sworn in to this seat, I testified in opposition to this bill from the perspective of a locally elected school board president who believed that locally elected school board members are in the best position to set any district policy related to bathroom use,” Piccolantonio told her colleagues. “I still believe that.”

Piccolantonio stressed her belief that a bathroom ban would weigh heavily on transgender students and detract from their sense of belonging in schools.

While Republicans overwhelmingly supported the legislation, some were wary about its purview.

Rep. Jon Cross, R-Findlay, said he heard from various private institutions in his district that they were concerned about the state placing any new restriction on private schools and colleges. He noted, too, that such a broad scope would make the law easier to strike down in court.

Cross’ point of contention aside, debate on Wednesday’s amendment more or less echoed much of the rhetoric Ohio legislators have had on transgender issues throughout this general assembly, including debate surrounding the legislature’s successful attempt to ban gender affirming medical care for minors and block transgender girls from participating in girls sports.

Lucas County Rep. Josh Williams, R-Sylvania, told his colleagues that he’s learned few absolute truths throughout his life: “One day I will die, I will always pay taxes, and boys can never become girls. Therefore, boys should not be in girls locker rooms.”

Meanwhile, downtrodden Democrats characterized the bill as just another example of the legislature using the state’s power to “bully” transgender Ohioans.

“It feels like we’ve done that enough recently, but here we are,” said Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin.

The Senate is expected to pick up the bill when legislators return from summer recess, which isn’t scheduled until after the general election this November.

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Avery Kreemer can be reached at 614-981-1422, on X, via email, or you can drop him a comment/tip with the survey below.

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