On the 15th of May this year, a bill was introduced to the Ohio House of Representatives that could endanger the mental health, safety and potentially the lives of LGBTQ children in the Buckeye State.
House Bill 658, dubiously titled as an act to “prohibit a court from using a parent, guardian, or custodian’s refusal to allow a child to undergo gender-based treatment as a basis for determining custody of a child,” though its execution may prove to be more nefarious than the name would suggest.
The basis for the legislation is not without precedent.
In the state of Arizona, a child, identified only as “L,” was in the middle of a custody dispute between their parents. L identified as a trans female, and began wearing a skirt to school — a decision supported by L’s mother. When L’s father learned of this, he sued his ex wife for sole custody of his child.
L’s father argued that her mother, “through various acts, was pushing a female gender identification on L.” The result in family court was a determination by the judge to implement a number of broad injunctions including forbidding the mother from discussing “gender-related issues at home,” and dressing L in feminine clothing. The judge also ordered that L was forbidden from having “female-oriented” toys, and her mother was not allowed to refer to L by her preferred pronouns (she/her).
While, given the case of L in Arizona, the title of the bill may seem somewhat beneficent, the text of the proposed legislation has contains some worrisome language.
In one section of the bill, “if a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the child’s parents…”
The main concern among members of the LGBTQIA community is the proposed law would “out” transgender youth, a choice which should be one that rests solely with the individual.
According to “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey” performed by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 40 percent of transgender adults report having made at least one suicide attempt, 92 percent of which occurred before the age of 25. Another study featured in the American Journal of Public Health in2010 shows that each episode of LGBT victimization, including bullying, harassment and abuse increases the likelihood of self-harm by an average of 2.5 times.
Many young members of the LGBTQIA community have a legitimate fear of coming out to their parents due to fear of reprisal or abuse. The proposed legislation strips the autonomy of choice from trans children and teens, and has the potential to cause those children to either cause themselves serious physical harm, or decide to take their own lives.
I attempted to contact the co-sponsors of the bill, my calls were not returned.
It is the opinion of the author that this legislation presents a legitimate danger to Ohio’s children, and should not be passed into law.