Gender dysphoria: Ohio bill protects parental rights
The bill, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Tom Brinkman and Paul Zeltwanger, affirms the fundamental right of parents to "withhold consent for gender dysphoria treatment or activities that are designed and intended to form a child's conception of sex and gender."
The measure would also require schools to inform parents in writing if their child exhibits symptoms of gender dysphoria or demonstrates a desire to identify as a different gender. Before a school or other government agency could provide any treatment -- including medical, psychological or social therapy -- the bill would require they inform the child's parents about the possible risks of such treatment and receive written consent.
The legislation responds to a case earlier this year in which an Ohio judge permanently removed a teenage girl from her parents' custody because they did not want her to undergo sex-change treatment.
Cincinnati-area Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Hendon turned the 17-year-old over to her grandparents, who supported her desire to identify as a boy. The teen's parents instead wanted to pursue Christian counseling to help identify the underlying causes of the gender dysphoria. A hospital gender clinic told the judge it was a matter of life or death for the girl to receive hormone therapy. See related Baptist Press story.
"It's absolutely horrifying that the state would remove a child from parents' custody to put the child on untested and dangerous drugs," Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values said in a statement. "Hamilton County Job and Family Services crossed the line in this case. HB 658 ensures this can't happen to other Ohio families."
Critics of hormone therapy for children argue it is a social and medical experiment with the potential to cause long-term harm including sterilization.
Baer said the bill also addresses efforts by the National Education Association and GLSEN, an organization pushing LGBT policies in K-12 schools, to encourage schools to sometimes withhold information from parents about a child's gender identity or sexual orientation.
A model policy for school districts proposed by GLSEN encourages schools not to disclose a student's transgender status to parents without the student's consent because of the risk of family rejection.
"No school should go behind a parent's back. Schools should be supporting parents, not undermining them," said Baer, noting the bill is a "common sense solution that ensures parents, not the state, makes choices for their children."