An Ohio bill calling for student athletes to undergo genital examination if their sex is questioned will likely be changed to remove that requirement, the State Senate’s president said.
The bill, HB151, is geared toward ensuring equal opportunities for male and female student athletes and says that for single-sex competitions, members of the opposite sex would not be allowed to participate. It provides that in the event someone disputes whether a competitor is of the right sex, the student would have to provide confirmation in the form of a doctor’s note based on their “internal and external reproductive anatomy,” as well as their testosterone levels and genetic makeup.
“I’m not sure why that’s in the bill, it’s unnecessary,” State Senate President Matt Huffman said about the genital inspection requirement. “All of these tests can be done with a simple DNA swab.”
Huffman addressed the issue after it was raised during the question and answer period of a City Club of Cleveland event featuring former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Huffman said that the bill was passed by the Ohio House “in the dead of night without conversation with any of the senators,” and that it will not be passed in its current form. He said that while the genital inspection provision is “a highlight that a lot of people like to talk about because it outrages a lot of people … it’s not necessary, it’s not going to happen.”
Huffman did agree that the issue of sex and athletics needs to be addressed in the Buckeye State, and said the State Senate will do so.
The bill came up in conversation when a member of the audience asked DeVos for her position on the inspection requirement. The former secretary deferred to Huffman to address the specific issue while noting that she is concerned with the general issue of women’s school sports.
“Let’s make sure that we are protecting all women’s abilities to compete as female athletes in sports and not compromise that for the future,” she said.
Whether transgender athletes should be permitted to compete with those of the gender they identify as or be required to remain in the divisions that correspond to their sex at birth has been a hot button issue, not just in school sports but on the international level. FINA, the body governing international swimming, adopted new policies taking effect Monday that address the matter.
Under the new “gender inclusion policy,” only swimmers who transitioned to become female before the age of 12 will be allowed to compete in women’s events.
There was also a proposal for a new “open competition policy.” The organization said it was setting up “a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to set up this new category.”
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