Ohio Republicans move bill on school bathroom use by transgender students forward in Legislature

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers advanced a ban on transgender students using bathrooms that fit their gender identity in a late-night state House vote Wednesday just before they left Columbus for the summer.

The Republican-backed bill was sent back to the Senate with the amended provision, which pertains to public K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. It would not apply to school employees, emergencies or people helping young children or those with disabilities. Schools would still be able to provide single-use and family bathroom facilities.

It also would prohibit schools from letting male and female students share overnight accommodations.

Ethan Kash, a legislative aide working in the office of the amendment’s sponsor, Cincinnati area Republican Rep. Adam Bird, said Thursday the “overnight accommodations” provision would apply to K-12 school trips but not colleges and universities.

At least 11 states have adopted laws barring transgender girls and women from girls and women’s bathrooms at public schools, and in some cases other government facilities. The laws are in effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. A judge’s order putting enforcement on hold is in place in Idaho. The prohibition in Utah is scheduled to take effect July 1.

Ohio House Republicans attached the measure to a proposal regarding Ohio's college credit program for high school students. A standalone bill on bathroom use that was advanced by a House panel this spring has not been put to a full vote in the chamber.

Backers say school officials need clarity, and the proposal's objective is to protect children. Opponents see it as an effort by Republicans that control the Legislature to restrict the rights of Ohioans.