COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a LGBTQ+ advocacy group, reports that 300 laws have been proposed or passed this year targeted at LGBTQ+ individuals, including in Ohio.
Ohio House Bill 454, or the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, restricts certain health care rights for children and teens experiencing gender dysphoria. The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Gary Click, who has made several amendments since it was first introduced, and feels the updated legislation has a middle ground approach.
“This was designed to save and protect and provide a stable atmosphere for people that identify as trans,” said Click. “It's not designed to hurt them and it's not based on any kind of phobias or fears. This bill has been brought to us and supported by people in the LGBT community.”
GLAAD said political rhetoric has contributed to a surge in discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. The group said there's been a report of 300 laws proposed or passed targeting the LGBTQ+ community this year, and said that's including Ohio House Bill 454.
Just days after the bill's fifth hearing, five people were shot and killed at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. Erin Upchurch, with Kaleidoscope, a center for LGBTQ+ youth, said that a lot of her clients have been in a consistent state of survival mode.
“Outraged. They're angry,” said Upchurch. “They don't feel safe. It's bad enough to, you know, be in homes. Maybe their family of origins aren't accepting or affirming. But then there's no one in the community to go to as well.”
Kaleidoscope had representatives at HB 454's fifth hearing and testified against the bill, but Click said that it’s a bill created to protect LGBTQ+ youth from taking drastic measures, and despite the tragedy in Colorado, he plans to move ahead with the bill.
“We're out of runway, quite honestly, so I don't think we have time to make too many more changes,” said Click.
Upchurch said while Click views the changes he made to the bill as a middle ground, Upchurch said the legislation is still too invasive and shouldn’t exist.
“There's this whole public conversation around what people should be doing with their identities and their bodies and things that are private between their doctor and their parents or guardians,” said Upchurch. “It takes away a sense of agency and a sense of self and belonging very easily and very quickly. They need to be creating opportunities for people to live and to expand and to have access to things that are going to allow them to thrive.”
The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association is opposed to the bill, claiming it will harm children by putting their health care at risk. When asked, Click said he does not plan on adding any new amendments to the bill and believes he has the votes for it to pass the House.