This article originally appeared in the Buckeye Flame
Protesters at the Ohio Statehouse one with a rainbow flag

Ohio’s House Bill 68 has been among the most widely discussed bills this past year. Called the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act by its Republican sponsors, it aims to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors and prohibit transgender girls from participating on girls’ sports teams.  

Though it might seem like a grassroots bill unique to Ohio, HB 68 is actually part of a concerted effort by anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups to pass similar legislation in state legislatures around the country. Let’s take a closer look at the bill’s provenance:

Arkansas and Ohio bills are very similar

HB 68 is based on legislation drafted out-of-state by the Family Research Council (FRC), an evangelical Christian lobbying organization based in Washington that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group.

HB 68 and a previous iteration, HB 454, share many similarities with an older bill in Arkansas that is also called the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act. 

The language in HB 454 is nearly identical to the Arkansas bill, HB 1570. The Arkansas bill was the first of many bills in states across the country that aim to restrict gender-transitioning care for minors.

Ohio Rep. Gary Click, sponsor of HB 68, has strong ties to the FRC. He has shared pictures of himself with FRC president Tony Perkins. On a talk show that Perkins hosted, Click praised the FRC and remarked that Ohio’s HB 68 is closely modeled on Arkansas HB 454, despite the wording differences. He also acknowledged Perkins’ statement that Arkansas and other states “have these [bills] in place.”

Further, Click has admitted to being approached by the Center for Christian Virtue, an Ohio organization affiliated with the FRC, to put forward HB 454. 

Montana and Ohio sports-ban bills are also very similar

In Ohio, the transgender girls’ sports ban was originally a separate bill, HB 6 or the Save Women’s Sports Act. Proposed by state Rep. Jena Powell, it sought to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports. It was folded into House Bill 68 shortly after the state legislature voted it down.

The bill shares a name and an FRC endorsement with Montana House Bill 112, also called the Save Women’s Sports Act. Montana’s bill was one of the earliest to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports.

HB 6 is not identical to HB 112; however, a good portion of the wording is either the same or follows the same formula. 

Ohio HB 6: “Any participant who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers a direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this section has a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available against the school, school district, interscholastic conference, or organization that regulates interscholastic athletics.”

Montana HB 112: “A student who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or who suffers any direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of [sections 1 through 43] may bring a cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available under law against the school or institution of higher education.”

There are other similarities, with wording often nearly identical. 

Montana’s House Bill 112 is also nearly identical in wording to Florida’s the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act

Ohio Rep. Jena Powell has notable ties to the FRC. In an interview, she praised FRC Midwest director Tim Throckmorton. She has posted on social media about participating in a luncheon with Throckmorton and other FRC staff. In addition, she participated in a live event with FRC Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview David Closson as a special guest, and  the event on her website.

Powell is a graduate of the conservative Statesmen Academy, a week-long seminar that educates policymakers on how to implement restrictions on LGBTQ+ and abortion rights. She is among many graduates around the country who have gone on to sponsor or co-sponsor bills limiting transgender rights.

Rep. Gary Click, Rep. Jena Powell, and the FRC did not respond to requests for interviews for this article.

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