The executive committee for Ohio’s top school board voted to schedule an additional meeting for Nov. 14 to continue debating a resolution that opponents said could harm LGBTQ+ youth in the state. Committee members considered the resolution and a proposed amendment on Monday.
Board member Brendon Shea wrote the resolution after changes were proposed in June to Title IX — a federal program protecting people from discrimination based on sex. The changes included protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Board members voted to send the resolution to the executive committee after hours of public testimony during an Oct. 12 meeting. Shea, of London, Ohio, introduced the resolution in September, titled the “Resolution to support parents, schools, and districts in rejecting harmful, coercive, and burdensome gender identity policies and to protect federal funding subject to Title IX.”
The resolution’s newest version argues “sex is not arbitrarily ‘assigned’ at birth but rather identifies an unchangeable fact” and claims the new Title IX rules “would require that K-12 schools socially transition minor children to a different gender without requiring parental consent.”
Shea writes against requiring school sports to be based on gender identity rather than biological sex and requiring students and staff to use a child’s preferred name and pronouns.
The committee began discussing an amendment to the resolution on Monday by board member Mike Toal that removed a line commanding Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction to inform each public school district and institution that the new Title IX guidance is “non-binding and unenforceable.”
However, the Title IX proposal remains unenforceable until the U.S. Department of Education reviews the more than 200,000 comments submitted during a public comment period this past summer. The process to finalize the regulations could take months or even years.
Still, a lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General David Yost and 21 other attorneys general claim the proposed policies are illegal. In July, a federal judge in Tennessee ruled in their favor, temporarily blocking parts of the new Title IX protections. A final ruling is still pending.
The prospect of rejecting the proposed regulations, whether at the state level or through the courts, has drawn strong reactions from the state’s board of education.
Susan Kleine, a retired clinical counselor from Mildfords, voiced support for the resolution.
“Encouraging the choice of ‘pronouns’ and encounters with opposite sex kids in bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers actually makes schools culpable for the anxiety, bullying, and possible physical abuse which school authorities are tasked to prevent,” said Kleine.
Executive Director of the Ohio School Psychologists Association, Rachel Chilton, spoke against the resolution and said reports show youth who attend schools that support the LGBTQ+ community have lower rates of attempted suicide.
“Banning affirming behavioral and medical care for minors goes against widely recommended medical advice and would harm the mental and physical well-being of all LGBTQ+ youth across the state, especially transgender and nonbinary youth,” Chilton said.
The committee will host its next meeting on the resolution on the morning of Nov. 14, the same day the full board of education is scheduled to meet for November.