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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Ohio Senate president wants invasive exams language removed from transgender athlete ban

 Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) [Andy Chow / Statehouse News Bureau]
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima)

The Ohio Senate is planning to omit controversial language — in an already controversial bill — that required athletes to undergo invasive exams if their sex was disputed.

The bill, HB151, would ban transgender athletes from participating in women sports on the middle school, high school, and collegiate level.

That legislation, which was passed during a late-night House session earlier this month, included language that required certain exams if an athlete’s sex was disputed. A physician would have to sign a statement saying they performed an exam of the individual’s “external and internal reproductive anatomy” in order for the athlete to compete.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), during a City Club of Cleveland forum, that the language in the House bill was unnecessary.

“So that is a highlight that a lot of people like to talk about because it outrages a lot of people, but it’s not necessary, it’s not going to happen,” said Huffman.

The question was brought up during a forum featuring former U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. While addressing the audience member's question, DeVos called out Huffman — who was also in the crowd — to add more comment.

Watch: Huffman discusses transgender athlete ban

House Democrats have admonished the overall intent of the bill and the specific language involving exams.

Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), a survivor of child sexual abuse, has called the bill “extreme legislation” and said the requirement for such exams “is nothing short of state-sanctioned sexual abuse.”

Huffman has said the Senate still plans to work on a bill that bans transgender athletes from women sports when lawmakers come back to the Ohio Statehouse — which will likely be after the November elections.

Opponents, such as Equality Ohio, slammed the transgender athlete ban as creating inequity for transgender youth which could increase “bullying and harassment” for a group already vulnerable to mental health issues.

Republican lawmakers have said the ban would protect women sports.

However, the Ohio High School Athletics Association (OHSAA) has noted that it already has policies in place stating that transgender student athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.