Ohio House backs single-sex bathrooms in schools 

Bathroom sign Credit kristina sohappy via Flickr CC BY 20 CNA 11 4 15 Credit: kristina sohappy via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require schools and colleges to designate male-only and female-only bathrooms and locker rooms. 

“No school shall permit a member of the male biological sex to use a student restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room that has been designated by the school for the exclusive use of the female biological sex,” the measure states, with similar language prohibiting females from using male facilities.

The proposed legislation would also prohibit males and females from sharing overnight accommodations.

But the measure would allow schools to allow students to use “single-occupancy facilities” or “faculty facilities” if a student requests to do so “due to special circumstances.”

It would also allow what it calls a “family facility” that would serve a parent, guardian, or family member assisting a child under age 10.

The vote on the measure, which was tacked onto another bill late Wednesday night, was 60-31 in favor, largely along party lines, with all Democrats opposing and all but two Republicans voting in favor.

Supporters of the bill say they are trying to protect women and girls from humiliation, intimidation, and violence.

“Boys and girls should not be in locker rooms together. They should not be in bathrooms together and they should not be sharing overnight accommodations,” said state Rep. Beth Lear, R-Galena, according to the Ohio Capital Journal

Opponents of the bill say it’s a swipe at students who identify as transgender. 

“I didn’t anticipate we would be using the power of the state to bully transgender children and individuals today. As far as protecting girls and women, I will tell you as a woman, I do not want nor need your protection,” said Ohio state Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin, according to the Ohio Capital Journal

The bill’s future is uncertain. The Ohio Senate would have to agree to the language for it to go to Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, who has not said publicly whether he would sign it. In January, the governor vetoed a law banning gender transitioning for minors. The Legislature later overrode his veto and passed the legislation.

Since the state Legislature has gone on summer recess, it’s not clear when or whether the state Senate will vote on the bill.

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