An Ohio state bill could force teachers and doctors to tell parents if they suspect a child is showing signs of body dysmorphia.
The bill, HB658, was submitted by Republican State Representatives Thomas Brinkman (Cincinnati) and Paul Zeltwanger (Mason) and would require teachers, doctors and care providers that observed behavior “opposite of the child’s biological sex” to make the child’s parents aware of their suspicions.
The bill states that if “a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the child’s parents and the child’s guardian or custodian.”
The bill would also require schools to ignore a transgender or gender non-conforming student’s pronoun request unless given parental approval, stating: “The parents, guardian, or custodian of a child shall not be subject to adverse action as a result of the refusal to permit gender dysphoria treatment, or refusal to provide written, informed consent for such treatment, for the child.”
Finally, the bill also gives parents the ability to “withhold consent for gender dysphoria treatment or activities that are designed and intended to form a child’s conceptions of sex and gender,” which would prevent students from having access to educational and medical treatment for body dysmorphia, a condition that many transgender people experience before they transition.
While seemingly targeted at transgender youth, critics have stated that the bill’s loose writing could lead to misdiagnosis and ultimately go against the child’s interests.
Grant Stancliff, Communications Director for Equality Ohio, says the bill is “creepy” and detrimental to transgender children.
“It feels big brother, it feels creepy,” Stancliff says. “It feels weird to put kids under that kind of behavioral surveillance. I don’t know how far something like this goes, but it’s certainly chilling to want to stand between a trans kid and a doctor.”
Stancliff adds that the purpose of the bill is to put as many roadblocks as possible between children and information regarding transgender health options.
“We don’t do this for any other condition that somebody needs medically necessary care for,” he says. “It’s putting a bunch of paperwork between…the most vulnerable in our community.”
Stancliff says that preventing youth from getting the care they need can be deadly, citing a teenager in 2015 who killed themselves because their parents refused to help get them the answers they needed.
“It’s transphobia that kills people,” he says. “We’re talking suicide, we’re talking about a population that sees so few options for their own future that the only option they see…is taking their own lives.”
The bill has been referred to the Ohio House Community and Family Advancement committee, which has its next scheduled hearing September 20th. Neither representative was available for comment.
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