Press Release: LGBTQ+ Advocacy Organizations Respond to House Bill 6 Proponent Hearing.

March 29th, 2023 

Contact: media@equalityohio.org, kathryn@equalityohio.org 


LGBTQ+ Advocacy Organizations Respond to House Bill 6 Proponent Hearing.

Partner Organizations Call On Legislature To Reject Anti-Trans Legislation

COLUMBUS – (March 29th) Today, LGBTQ+ Advocacy Organizations from across Ohio and the country call upon the House Higher Education Committee to reject House Bill 6, a direct attack on transgender youth athletics in Ohio, as lawmakers meet for a second hearing. House Bill 6 would ban trans student athletes from playing on the sports teams that align with their gender identity, effectively banning them from school sports entirely. At a time when our students are already struggling, HB 6 would remove young girls and women from a key support system and further isolate LGBTQ+ young people. You can learn more about House Bill 6 Here: HB 6: One Pager (135th)

State lawmakers have proposed legislation similar to HB 6 for three general assemblies in a row, as well as legislation to ban LGBTQ+ topics from the classroom and ban access to affirming care, part of the wave of anti-trans legislation being introduced in statehouses across the country. This coordinated political attack targets transgender and non-binary people, LGBTQ+ communities, and Ohio values of fairness and equality.

“Sports allow students to stay healthy, be part of a team, learn invaluable leadership skills and strategic thinking, and foster friendships,” said Maria Bruno, Public Policy Director at Equality Ohio. “Transgender youth regularly face discrimination in their daily lives and sports can provide an important affirming space. Banning transgender students from participating at all ages sends a dangerous message to young people in this state. We need our lawmakers to pay attention to issues that matter—not look for ways to make life harder for transgender youth.”

“Bullying and dehumanizing transgender and intersex youth who love sports is an awful and heartless move for Ohio lawmakers,” said Gio Santiago, Senior Field Organizer at Athlete Ally. “We struggle to keep folks in the state, and passing laws that actively target our most vulnerable kids is in direct opposition to the values that make Ohio great.” 

Dr. Rhea Debussy (she/her), who is the Director of External Affairs at Equitas Health and a former facilitator for the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program said, “As a national voice in the fight for trans-inclusive athletics, I’m deeply disappointed that HB 6—which attempts to ban transgender, non-binary, gender expansive, and intersex youth from school sports—has been reintroduced in the Ohio Statehouse.” Debussy further noted, “It’s very alarming that a group of legislators still think that bullying gender expansive and intersex youth is something that Ohioans want their elected officials to do.”

“Transgender youth are entitled to the same respect as other children in Ohio. This bill is a craven attempt to further rollback the rights of transgender youth in this country,” said Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. “Instead of focusing on issues that are important to everyday Ohioans, radical politicians in Ohio are taking part in a coordinated effort to marginalize transgender youth who are seeking to feel welcomed and safe in their schools and on the sports field. This sports ban will only further marginalize children who are simply trying to be a part of a team.” 

“It’s dehumanizing to have to continue to ask lawmakers to not restrict your existing rights under the law, but trans youth are repeatedly put in this exact position,” says James Knapp Board Chair TransOhio. “This same type of legislation is just another attempt to erase or eradicate trans and nonbinary people from public life, and we aren’t buying it. A version of this same bill has already failed twice in Ohio. Trans athletes are part of the team.”

“In sports and in life, transgender girls and women deserve equal access,” said Micah Mitchell, Policy Fellow at the ACLU of Ohio. “House Bill 6, much like other anti-trans legislation, is a thinly veiled attempt to vilify an entire community while claiming to solve a problem that simply does not exist. Trans Ohioans deserve equal access to sports, to liberty, and to life.”

“To single out individual identities and communities is blatant discrimination, and we feel deep disappointment that our leaders are misusing their power and influence in this way.” said KYC Executive Director Erin Upchurch, MSSA, LISW-S, “Hiding behind hatred and fear, disguised as care, is cowardly at best. Kaleidoscope Youth Center is committed to standing with and for our young people and continuing to be a safer place where they can be affirmed and loved in community.”

“There are fewer than 500 kids in my daughter’s school, where she was elected by her peers as the first openly transgender homecoming princess at Mariemont High School last year. Kids in her school and on her sports teams accept her for who she is. The kids get it. OHSAA gets it. It’s time for lawmakers in Columbus to get over their misogyny and leave girls alone. Let them all play,” said Kat Steiner, PFLAG Cincinnati.


Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality. Equality Ohio envisions an Ohio where people are welcome, affirmed and flourishing.

Athlete Ally’s mission is to end the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sport and to activate the athletic community to exercise their leadership to champion LGBTQI+ equality.

Equitas Health is a nonprofit community healthcare system founded in 1984. We are one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS-serving organizations, serving tens of thousands of patients in Ohio, Texas, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

The Human Rights Campaign’s is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

TransOhio serves the Ohio transgender and ally communities by providing services, education, support, and advocacy, which promotes and improves the health, safety and life experience of the Ohio transgender individual and community.

The ACLU of Ohio is an affiliate of the national ACLU. Founded in 1920, the national ACLU includes more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, making it our country’s foremost advocate of individual rights. Through education, litigation, and lobbying the ACLU seeks to preserve civil liberties for each new generation.

KYC Youth Center is the largest and longest-standing organization in Ohio solely dedicated to serving and supporting queer youth. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we work to provide a safer place, programming, and leadership opportunities so that youth can be free to explore who they are and empowered to become their confident, truest self.

PFLAG is the United States’ first and largest organization uniting parents, families, and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+). PFLAG National is the national organization, which provides support to the PFLAG network of local chapters. PFLAG Cincinnati is an affiliate of PFLAG National.