© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Proposed Ohio Transgender Athlete Ban Would End Policy That Ensures Fairness

photo of girls playing soccer
Jeff St.Clair
Girls play a soccer match in Northeast Ohio, part of which is regulated by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. The OHSAA has policies that balance inclusion of transgender athletes with fair competition.

Lawmakers have introduced bills in the Ohio House and Senate that would ban transgender athletes from competing in high school or collegiate sports.

Backers of the Save Women’s Sports Act say the law is needed to prevent unfair advantages for trans athletes.

But there are already policies in place in Ohio intended to provide safeguards.

The proposed legislation would require that athletes only be allowed on teams that match their sex at birth.

Transgender athletes would effectively be banned in Ohio.

Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesman Tim Stried says that goes against the regulating agency’s mission.

“All student athletes should have the opportunity to participate in jr. high and high school sports, and that includes transgender student athletes.”

He says OHSAA currently screens transgender girls to make sure they don’t present an unfair advantage.

“The policy is set-up to include medical science and a doctor and there are certainly steps that need to be taken to get approval,” said Stried.

OHSAA policy states transgender girls must undergo a year of hormone therapy or be screened by an eligibility committee before taking part in sports.

Stried believes that policy is working.

“To date we have not had any issues where a school or a family has come forward and said ‘my daughter was unfairly penalized or robbed of opportunities because of a transgender female,’" he said.

"That has not happened yet, and we don’t anticipate that happening.”

Stried says that since 2015, 48 transgender girls have applied to take part in girls sports, and only 11 of them were approved for competition.

"Those 11 approvals have resulted in no disruption of competition regarding competitive equity and they have not caused any loss in female participation," he wrote in a statement.

Neither sponsor of the Save Women's Sports Act would agree to an interview, but Sen. Kristina Roegner, (R - Hudson), did provide a statement:

“Senate Bill 132 is simply about maintaining safety and fairness for women's sports. We need to ensure girls are included, engaged and encouraged to participate in programs reserved for them."

Roegner wrote, "As a mother of 3 daughters who participate in athletics, I understand that parents don't want their 5'3" 115 pound daughter on the same soccer field as a 6'1" 185 pound boy. Former Olympic gold medalist decathlete Bruce, now Kaitlyn, Jenner recently agreed and was vilified by the constantly changing judgment of today's cancel culture.”

Jeff is your average chemist turned radio host and reporter. He currently hosts middays on WKSU and has reported extensively on science, politics, business, and the environment.