DeWine criticizes GOP advancing transgender girl sports ban

By FARNOUSH AMIRI and ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS - Report for America/Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s Republican governor questioned Friday the need for a legislative ban on transgender girls competing in sports, pushing back on GOP lawmakers’ attempt to pass the controversial measure.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s comment appearing to oppose such a policy came one day after fellow Republicans in the House inserted the ban into an unrelated bill, saying such a prohibition was needed to protect girls from unfair competition.

But DeWine said there were better ways to deal with the question.

“This issue is best addressed outside of government through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association, who can tailor policies to meet the needs of their member athletes and member institutions,” he said.

The governor’s spokesperson said it was too early to say whether DeWine would veto the ban if it came to his desk.

The OHSAA has consistently said there’s no evidence of a problem posed by transgender girls competing in sports, and the number of such participants is minor.

The proposal, titled the Save Women’s Sports Act, would require schools and higher education institutions in the state to designate “separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.”

“It is a shameful day in this body today,” Democratic state Rep. Michael Skindell said on the House floor Thursday. “This is one of the most extreme political attacks on transgender people in the nation.”

Supporters say the measures are necessary to maintain fairness and protect the integrity in women’s sports in Ohio, though lawmakers have not pointed to a single instance where this has been an issue in the state.

“Across our country, female athletes are currently losing scholarships, opportunities, medals and training opportunities,” GOP Rep. Jena Powell, a cosponsor of the bill, said on the House floor as Democrats pounded their desks in opposition.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has ruled in 48 cases of transgender students applying to compete since September 2015 and says and there have been only 11 transgender female approvals.

“Those 11 approvals have resulted in no disruption of competition regarding competitive equity and they have not caused any loss in female participation, championships or scholarship opportunities,” Tim Stried, a spokesperson for the association, said in a statement. “The OHSAA is confident that our policy, which is based on medical science, is appropriate to address transgender requests and works for the benefit of all student-athletes and member schools.”



Report for America/Associated Press

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