Health Care Providers, Experts and LGBTQ+ Rights Advocates Urge Ohio Lawmakers to Protect Access to Health Care for All Young People in Response to HB 454

COLUMBUS, Ohio (February 16, 2021) – Tomorrow at 11am, the Ohio House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee will hear testimony on HB454, a bill that would give politicians the power to interfere in personal medical decisions made by families in consultation with their health care providers. This bill aims to restrict transgender young people’s access to compassionate, appropriate, and fact-based health care. A robust and growing body of research demonstrates that access to gender-affirming health care, which is widely endorsed by pediatricians, helps transgender kids’ mental health and wellbeing. 

As lawmakers consider this bill, civil rights and LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and advocates continue to fight for the rights of all LGBTQ+ Ohioans. This coalition highlights how HB 454, if passed and implemented, would threaten the safety and rights of all young people by creating a precedent for politicians to override the expertise of health care providers and create arbitrary restrictions on essential medical care. LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and physicians are the best decision makers when it comes to the health care of Ohio’s youth—not state lawmakers. Gender affirming care is recommended medical care and has consistently shown to have a positive effect on mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth. 

Equality Ohio, TransOhio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, and other advocates and health experts have issued the following statements affirming the importance of access to health care for all Ohioans, without political interference or judgment:

“Equality Ohio believes that people of all genders and ages should have access to fact-based medical care that allows them to live as the best and most authentic version of themselves. Enough is enough. All youth in Ohio deserve to have access to medical care, and transgender youth are no exception,” said Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio.

“It is reprehensible that some lawmakers continue to use trans children as pawns in their reelection schemes,” said James Knapp, Chair of the Board of Directors of TransOhio. “HB 454 flies in the face of evidence-based best practices and current standards of care.”

“HB 454 is a mean-spirited attempt by Ohio legislators to demean the lived experiences of trans youth by taking away their medical care and psychological support systems. Legislators have no business banning evidence-based science, especially affirming, professionally endorsed services by pediatricians and other licensed providers,” offered J. Bennett Guess, Executive Director for the ACLU of Ohio.

“Kaleidoscope Youth Center stands for the humanity, dignity, and belonging of each and every young person in Ohio; and we are committed to interrupting that which causes harm. We are adamantly opposed to HB 454, which is egregiously bad legislation and a direct perpetuation of discrimination and harm. Ohio’s youth, young adults, and their families deserve more. They deserve better from the adults and leaders put into positions of power in interest of supporting and protecting their inalienable rights. Legislation and policies such as HB 454 do nothing to protect any child or young person; and instead, only further marginalize. This is bullying behavior,” said Erin Upchurch MSSA, LISW-S, Executive Director.

“This bill does not solve any problems. It is a reckless, despicable attack on the LGBTQ+ community and we plan to fight it every step of the way. No one should be denied best-practice medical care simply because legislators don’t like or understand them. Decisions about what kind of care is suitable for a particular young person should be made by the young person and their parents, in consultation with medical experts,” added Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley.

Learn more about HB 454 here.

About Equality Ohio

Equality Ohio is a  statewide organization advancing the rights and protecting the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ Ohioans. Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality in pursuit of  an Ohio where people are welcome, affirmed and flourishing. Learn more: www.equalityohio.org.

About Kaleidoscope Youth Center 

Kaleidoscope Youth Center [KYC] is the largest and longest standing organization in Ohio to serve and support LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults; ages 12-24. Since 1994, KYC has been a leader and expert in cultivating environments of affirmation and belonging through several programs which include the drop in center; community education and training; advocacy and civic engagement; mental health and wellness; and low barrier housing opportunities. www.kycohio.org

Trans Ohio

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. TransOhio is Ohio’s first and largest statewide transgender equality organization.

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.