Press Release: Equality Ohio, ACLU of Ohio, and TransOhio Denounce House Bill 245 Ahead of Proponent Testimony


Contact: MD Sitzes, Communications Manager
Equality Ohio

Equality Ohio, ACLU of Ohio, and TransOhio Denounce House Bill 245 Ahead of Proponent Testimony

Columbus, OH – June 4, 2024 – Equality Ohio, ACLU of Ohio and TransOhio strongly opposes House Bill 245(sponsored by Representatives King and Williams), a broad and harmful measure that criminalizes performing while transgender or in drag outside of adults-only venues. Proponent testimony for this bill is scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, at 12 PM in the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee.

Key Concerns with HB 245:

  • Criminalization and Felony Charges: HB 245 makes it a crime and in some cases a felony, to perform while transgender or in drag outside of adults-only clubs. The bill’s broad and ambiguous language creates significant legal risks and uncertainties.
  • Obscenity and Harmful Labeling: The bill equates living as or performing while transgender, and the art form of Drag, with being obscene and harmful to juveniles, perpetuating harmful stigmas and discrimination.
  • Chilling Effect on the Arts: By criminalizing Drag performances outside of “adult cabaret” venues and imposing felony charges if these performances occur in the presence of someone under 18, HB 245 will have a chilling effect on artistic expression and lead to self-censorship in spaces where gender-bending is part of the art form.
  • Conflict with First Amendment Rights: HB 245 poses a serious threat to First Amendment rights by restricting freedom of expression and artistic performance.

“House Bill 245 aims to perpetuate discrimination and target LGBTQ+ identities, culture, and expression. This legislation undermines fundamental freedoms and fosters further intolerance and marginalization,” said Equality Ohio Policy Manager, Morgan Zickes. “Equality Ohio is firmly against House Bill 245 and any attempt to criminalize LGBTQ+ joy and expression.”

“HB 245’s broad and ambiguous language sets a troubling precedent that threatens not only the LGBTQ+ community but also the fundamental rights of all Ohioans,” added Sean McCann, Policy Strategist for the ACLU of Ohio. “The freedom to express ourselves and our gender identity in creative ways fuels artistry across our country and culture – and Drag is protected by the First Amendment like any creative expression such as dance, fashion, and music. We will continue to fight against this unjust legislation.”

“By equating performing in drag or simply existing in public as a trans person with obscenity, HB 245 perpetuates hateful stereotypes, endangers the safety and well-being of our community, and many others across Ohio,” stated Dara Adkison, Executive Director of TransOhio. “We urge lawmakers to reject this bill and focus on the real needs of Ohioans”

Opponents of the bill will be available for a press gaggle to answer questions following the hearing on Wednesday, outside of Statehouse Room 121.

For more detailed information on HB 245, please refer to Equality Ohio’s updated One Pager.


About Equality Ohio: Equality Ohio is a statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization dedicated to achieving lived and legal equality for LGBTQ+ Ohioans.

About TransOhio: TransOhio serves Ohio’s transgender and ally community by providing services, education, support, and advocacy, which promotes and improves the health, safety, and life experience of Ohio transgender individuals and community.

About ACLU of Ohio: The ACLU of Ohio is a non-profit, non-partisan legal and advocacy organization working to expand civil liberties and civil rights for all people. It is a state affiliate of the ACLU Nationwide – founded in 1920 – with offices in all fifty states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.