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Akron, Ohio non-profit gears up to assist LGBTQ+ young adults

“Although there’s a nondiscrimination ordinance for LGBTQ+ people in Akron, he says that Ohio still has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ rights”



Giovonni Santiago (Photo courtesy of META Akron Facebook page)

AKRON, Oh. – The Motivate, Educate, Transform and Advocate (META) Center has provided support to Northeast Ohio trans and gender-nonconforming youth from ages 7 to 19 since 2016. Now, Giovonni Santiago, the founder of the Akron, Ohio, based nonprofit, is gearing up to support people in their 20s. 

Santiago started the group to “create social change and foster acceptance” by providing housing coordination, legal advocacy, emotional support and community outreach, reports the Akron Beacon Journal

“Sometimes, it’s just allowing people to have a place to go,” Santiago told the Beacon Journal. “It’s like they don’t need to have a conversation. They just need a safe place.”

“I do this work because I want other people to live their life authentically,” he said.

Santiago says that parents who see their child “expressing differently than society would say they should” seek his help.

“A parent might say, ‘Well, my daughter likes to play with trucks’… and it’s not just a one-time thing,” he told the Beacon Journal. “It might be nothing, and it might be something.”

“We want them to know that’s not a bad thing,” he said. “We want people to feel valid with who they are.”

Although META is based in Akron and does much of its work in Northeast Ohio, Santiago says his group has a national impact, helping approximately 200 people a year, according to the Beacon Journal.

“It entails support groups, one-on-one peer support with myself, we send out care packages after individuals have gender-affirming surgery, we offer a clothing closet, so we send clothing to individuals who need clothes,” he said. 

Santiago, who is also the Northeast Ohio organizer for Equality Ohio, knows first-hand the struggle that trans kids face, as he too is a trans man.

“As trans people, the journey is not just ours,” he told the Beacon Journal. “It affects our families, it affects our friends. It affects everyone.”

According to the Beacon Journal, he entered the U.S. Air Force during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military era. After his Air Force service, Santiago earned a degree in early childhood education and began teaching preschool.

At 27, Santiago began his medical transition at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2013. He tells the Beacon Journal that he was the doctor’s first trans patient.  

“I was born female, and knew that I belonged in a male body,” he said. “So, I tell people that I’ve been transitioning, and I’ve been transitioning for eight years.”

Santiago is a highly regarded LGBTQ organizer. According to the newspaper, he was named one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People and honored by NBC Out in 2018.

Although Santiago helped establish a nondiscrimination ordinance for LGBTQ+ people in Akron, he says that Ohio still has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ rights. Santiago added that nearby Cleveland is “No. 4 on the list for where Black trans women are murdered.”

“We’ve always been here, but we’ve had to live in fear,” he said. “Even now in Ohio, there are zero protections for LGBTQ people”



Ohio Trans ban proponents also push conversion therapy

Ohio proponents of a ban on gender affirming care testified “alternate treatments” such as witch doctors & conversion therapy were acceptable



Screenshot/Ohio State Government Television

By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Government Oversight Committee convened to hear House Bill 68, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, force them into medical detransition, and ban trans women from women’s sports.

Representative Gary Click, a right-wing pastor known for practicing conversion therapy, is behind this latest effort in a series of attempts to enact transgender restrictions in Ohio. The hearing, designated “proponents only,” featured testimonies only from those supporting it. The proponents who spoke testified that family rejection, addiction counseling, and even conversion therapy may be the right options to treat transgender people, while also relying on retired pharmacists and fringe doctors to justify the bans.

The bill, which has already passed the Ohio House of Representatives, was proposed by Representative Gary Click. It is one of several bills targeting transgender and LGBTQ+ people in the state, including a public drag ban and a ban on transgender students in college bathrooms.

It comes after Republicans running on transgender issues lost in several school board races across the state. It combines two contentious anti-trans bills: a ban on gender affirming care up to the age of 18 years old and a ban on transgender people playing in sports of their gender identity.

Importantly, there are no exceptions for the gender affirming care ban for severe dysphoria, no alternate treatments presented in the bill, and it even would pull transgender youth who are already on medication off of their medication, forcing them to medically detransition.

The hearing included testimonies from several members of the small group of political detransitioners and social media influencers who frequently travel between state hearings to oppose gender-affirming care, paralleling the ex-gay movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. A recent article states that prominent figures in this group, like Chloe Cole, may be paid for their appearances.

Detransitioners and “trans regretters,” including Chloe Cole, Prisha Mosely, and Corinna Cohn — all recent participants in a controversial Genspect conference where trans women were said to transition due to thinking they are “failed boys” — spoke at the hearing. Riley Gaines, famous for tying for 5th place against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, also made an appearance.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that, according to a Cornell University review, detransition rates are estimated to be between 1-3%. Moreover, the reasons for detransitioning most commonly do not stem from a lack of transgender identity but rather from parental pressure, employment challenges, or societal stigma.

One of the detransitioners who testified to ban gender affirming care seemed to make this point without realizing it. Richard Anumene, who is suing Kaiser Permanente for providing him gender affirming care as an adult, testified that he faced immense family pressure after transitioning at the age of 20.

Though he states that he experienced a wonderful transition early on, he was “convinced to return to presenting as a man” due to rejection by his father and economic difficulties, in line with recent studies showing transgender people experience heightened rates of poverty. Numerous other witnesses would suggest family rejection and non-affirmation could be a way to stop trans people from being trans.

Another detransitioner, Morgan Keller, testified for the first time that she detransitioned due to being “seduced” by “gender ideology” and a belief that her gender identity was a “delusion.” She left out an important part of her own detransition journey, however; Keller, when posting online about her detransition, stated that the actual reason she detransitioned was because she had a religious experience that resulted in an intense dream where God told her she was on the wrong path. Religious experiences like this are common in both the ex-gay and the religious detransitioner communities, which often teach that being LGBTQ+ goes against God’s will.

Perhaps one of the most extreme testimonies came from Jeanette Cooper, who rejected her own child’s transgender identity and who lost custody to the child’s father after the he testified that Cooper’s actions led to mental and emotional harm. Cooper revealed that she leads a group of “thousands of parents” who do not affirm their transgender children’s gender identities, promoting this form of rejection as a way to deter being transgender. Later, when asked how people with gender dysphoria should be treated, she stated that it must be treated “like an addiction.” There is no evidence that treating being transgender “like an addiction” helps health outcomes for them, but plenty of evidence that rejection has profound negative impacts. Transgender youth with parental support was reported in one study to show a 63% lower suicidality rate.

You can see an excerpt from her submitted testimony here:

One group that sent a representative to testify was the Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization behind writing most of the anti-trans laws in the United States and the organization being paid large sums of money to defend them in court.

Matt Sharp from the Alliance Defending Freedom testified that banning trans care does not violate the organization’s “parental rights” stance, and that the ban “only targeted puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery” for trans youth. When asked what was left for these youth, he claimed that “therapy” was the best way to treat them.

It is important to note that organizations that often ally with the Alliance Defending Freedom push a variety of forms of conversion therapy. The Alliance Defending Freedom itself once allied with Exodus International, the ex-gay movement of the 1990s and early 2000s, and continues to defend conversion therapy for both gay and transgender people. Interestingly, the recently elected speaker of the US House, Mike Johnson, was part of that partnership.

There is no evidence that conversion therapy is a good treatment for transgender people, and plenty of evidence that it does harm. Meanwhile, gender affirming care has extremely strong evidence behind it. A recent journal article in the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet, judged that gender affirming care is a form of preventative healthcare. It leads to an improved quality of life and plays a major role in the well-being of transgender people.

Several studies have shown that it leads to positive mental health outcomes and heavily reduces suicides—some studies report a remarkable 73% decrease in suicide rates. The endorsement of gender affirming care is supported by a collection of over 50 journal articles compiled by Cornell University, all of which underscore its beneficial effects.

Several other proponents were brought in to testify. These proponents included fringe medical practitioners, such as Ohio pharmacist Kent Zellner, who resigned as a pharmacist after refusing to fill Plan B prescriptions in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Cynthia Millen, a woman often presented as a “USA Swimming official” who has stated that “predators love Planned Parenthood” and that gay people should “practice chastity,” testified as well.

Riley Gaines, a major conservative influencer, also showed up to testify in favor of the sports ban portion of the bill. Following the hearing, she announced to her followers that she played a major role in banning transgender women from women’s chess.

Despite anti-trans policies not being politically popular in Ohio—70% of of school board candidates running on transgender issues and Moms For Liberty platforms lost—sources indicate that Republicans intend to push this bill through. Should it pass into law, Ohio will be one of the last conservative states to pass a gender affirming care ban and sports ban for trans youth. The harm these bills will do is immense if passed into law.

The next hearing will be an opponent hearing, which will be announced at a later date.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Plea deal in shooting threats against Ohio LGBTQ+ students

The charges resulted from the call to Kettering Fairmont High School after the student body made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students



Kettering Municipal Court (Photo Credit: Clerk of the Kettering Municipal Court)

KETTERING, Ohio – A municipal court judge in this inner suburban Dayton city sentenced a Beavercreek, Ohio man to three years of supervised probation and 90 days on electronic home monitoring,  for making a threatening call this past May about shooting LGBTQ+ high school students.

Booking photo: Brandon Moore via Kettering Police Department

The Dayton Daily News reported that Brandon Dawes Moore, 42, was sentenced Tuesday in Kettering Municipal Court after he pleaded guilty to telecommunications harassment. As part of his plea, a misdemeanor inducing panic charge was dismissed.

The charges resulted from Moore’s call to Kettering Fairmont High School after the student body made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students, seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, as prom king and queen.

An annual Spring ritual of passage for high school age teenagers, prom is considered the seminal event marking the impending end of the academic school year, and for seniors the transition to college or jobs.

For Conley and Green, who identifies as non-binary, being voted for the honor of being prom royalty by their peers was special, at least until hate and negative feedback targeted the pair.

What followed next was heated debate, acrimonious social media posts, and physical threats against the LGBTQ community leading to Moore’s arrest. On May 3, Moore was booked into the city jail on a preliminary felony charge of inducing panic. However, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office determined there was no evidence to support a felony charge, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Michael Knote, the Executive Director of ‘Have A Gay Day,’ a Dayton- based LGBTQ+ community centre, food pantry and national web based outreach program told the Blade Sunday:

“How do we find balance when making threats against innocent children doesn’t carry some kind of answer that is more meaningful than a stern talking to because that’s how this feels. I don’t know if there is a list of people that make threats against schools and school activities but these things feel like warning signs and perhaps something that should be looked at more closely. We always highlight after tragedy the signs that everyone seems to keep missing, perhaps we need to do more when someone thinks an answer is imagining harm to another life.”

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Ohio Republican claims bathroom ban nothing to do with trans

“This legislation doesn’t refer to anything with regards to state or federal law with regards to transgender”



Ohio state house in Columbus. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress photographs collection)

By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – In Ohio, a bill targeting restroom access for transgender individuals gained renewed traction, leading to a hearing on Thursday. House Bill 183, introduced in May, had previously been overshadowed as legislators predominantly directed their attention towards sports bans and prohibitions on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Notably, neither of these measures have been passed into law. However, following a year marked by an unprecedented wave of legislation aimed at restricting the rights of transgender individuals, certain Ohio legislators seem ready for another push.

This effort goes beyond what most other states have attempted: If successful, Ohio would impose restrictions surpassing even those few states that have already enacted bans on transgender restroom usage with the passage of this legislation.

House Bill 183 is explicit in its provisions. Not only would it prevent transgender students in K-12 schools from using restrooms that align with their gender identity, but it also extends this restriction to transgender adults across all colleges and universities in the state.

Remarkably, these stipulations would apply regardless of the gender reflected on an individual’s birth certificate, even if they’ve legally changed their gender. Instead, restroom use would be determined by the “biological sex” recorded on a birth certificate at or close to the time of birth, pointedly omitting those who have since made legal amendments to their certificates.

You can see both the biological sex definition in the bill as well as the prohibition on students in universities here:

Wednesday’s hearing on the bill proved to be heated. Only those supporting the bill were permitted to testify that day, in line with Ohio’s system of separating “proponent and opponent” testimonies. One notable moment was when a representative referenced a YMCA incident in Xenia, Ohio but omitted the crucial detail that the transgender individual involved was acquitted of public indecency.

Representative Lear stood out with particularly derisive remarks towards trans people, suggesting that transgender restroom use is part of a “sexual revolution” that could “weaken laws against pornography, rape, and child molestation.” When pressed about the law’s enforcement and determining who is transgender, Representative Lear commented that “some people can and some people can’t.”

Ohio already has a glaring example that underscores the perils of policies like the one proposed in the bill. Last year, a transgender man in Ohio was physically assaulted in a women’s restroom. Prior to this, he had sought guidance from a campground owner about which restroom to use because of his transgender status.

The campground owner advised him to use the women’s restroom in line with his “biological sex,” a term that was defined in a similar way to this bill. Inside, patrons mistakenly assumed he was a transgender woman and attacked him. If this bill is enacted, such alarming incidents could become more frequent, pushing transgender men and women into restrooms where they do not belong.

Later in the hearing, the committee’s chair, Representative Tom Young, asserted that the bill wasn’t related to transgender individuals, remarking, “This legislation doesn’t refer to anything with regards to state or federal law with regards to transgender.” This line of reasoning is becoming familiar in legislative settings, where proponents of bills that adversely impact trans individuals maintain that the legislation isn’t about them. A similar narrative emerged in Montana regarding the state’s drag ban. Despite multiple legislators stating on the House floor that the bill had nothing to do with transgender people, the law’s first target was, tellingly, a transgender woman.

Only 10 states have passed bathroom bans in the United States, all all but three of those states’ bans only apply to transgender youth in school settings. North Dakota’s bathroom ban applies to Universities. Florida and Kansas have total bathroom bans, though only Florida has an enforcement mechanism: criminal penalties of up to a year in prison.

You can see a map of states with bathroom bans here:

States with bathroom bans.

The bill is slated for a comprehensive hearing of opposing views on October 11th. If enacted, Ohio would join the ranks of states with more stringent restrictions on restroom access for transgender individuals, both young and old. While Ohio has refrained from enacting the most severe anti-trans laws, many will be watching closely to see if this stance shifts.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Ohio school superintendent orders LGBTQ+ mural painted over

Debate over discussions about race, inclusion, & LGBTQ+ issues in Forest Hills Schools was reignited by the decision to paint over the mural



The student created LGBTQ+ affirming mural inside Nagel Middle School before it was painted over. ( Photo Credit: Forest Hills Schools board member Leslie Rasmussen)

Cincinnati, Ohio – The Forest Hills Schools Board of Education meeting erupted in controversy Wednesday night as parents and community members reacted to the decision to paint over a student-created LGBTQ+ affirming mural at the start of the school year.

Superintendent Larry Hook, who was targeted by audience members during the public comments session, remained silent and did not respond to the criticism directly.

Cincinnati Public Radio station WVXU 91.7 FM reported that debate over discussions about race, inclusion, and LGBTQ+ issues in Forest Hills Schools was reignited by Hook’s decision to paint over the student-created mural, which depicted the hands of people of different races signaling love and solidarity surrounded by symbols of equality and acceptance of various sexual orientations.

According to WVXU 91.7 FM, dozens showed up to Wednesday’s meeting holding signs of the mural. Forest Hills parent Jeff Nye addressed Hook directly, calling his response to the initial backlash childish.

“A 7th or 8th grade kid — 12- or 13-years-old — damaged that banner and that’s unacceptable and should be punished,” Nye said. “But before that happened, you had an opportunity to reflect and take action, value the feedback you received, to lead by example, to lead with humility, and say ‘I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have put it there,’ but you didn’t. You doubled down. You didn’t act like leader. You acted like a kid. You took your ball and you went home and I’m incredibly disappointed.”

High school student Norah Zellen also had strong words for Hook, saying that permanently covering the mural will have a more negative impact on students than district leaders thought.

“The mural exhibited a safe and inclusive learning environment, yet it was painted over. This action shows thoughtlessness, a lack of authenticity, and calls into question if the school board and superintendent want some students erased,” Zellen told Hook.

The Superintendent defended his decision remarking:

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who were very upset that it was there,” he said. “So, it’s kind of created this battle that shouldn’t even be in schools. We need to focus on our education. We need to focus on what’s important. That doesn’t mean we marginalize anybody.”

WVXU 91.7 FM also reported that a small number of adults spoke out during public comment defending Hook’s decision. One attendee, who took offense to parents and students supporting the mural, was removed by law enforcement after getting into a physical interaction with another audience member.

Forest Hills School District Board of Education Meeting 9-20-23:

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Ohio High School crowns LGBTQ+ prom court, threats erupt

Being voted for the honor of being prom royalty by their peers was special, at least until hate and negative feedback targeted the pair



Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio, made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students, seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, as prom king and queen (Screenshot/WDTN NBC 2)

KETTERING, Oh. – The student body of Kettering Fairmont High School in this an inner suburb of Dayton, Ohio made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students, seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, as prom king and queen. What followed next was heated debate, acrimonious social media posts, and physical threats against the LGBTQ community and an arrest.

An annual Spring ritual of passage for high school age teenagers, prom is considered the seminal event marking the impending end of the academic school year, and for seniors the transition to college or jobs.

For seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, who identifies as non-binary, voted for the honor of being prom royalty by their peers was special, at least until hate and negative feedback targeted the pair.

NBC News affiliate WDTN 2 reported that during the May 2, 2023 meeting of Kettering City Schools Board of Education public comments took an ugly turn. While the prom court received full support, local resident Joe Overholser believes prom king and queen should be a biological male and female.

“Till the last few years about all the history in the world, it’s kind of been understood,” Overholser said. “So, you know, so for whatever reason the last few years, it’s has been questioned. And I don’t think that’s a good thing for society.”

Michael Knote, the CEO and Executive Director of ‘Have A Gay Day,’ a Dayton- based LGBTQ+ community centre, food pantry and national web based outreach program told the Blade:

“Prom King and Queen was decided by the students of Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering Ohio and while the students made their vote and decision it was an outraged community that took the joy away from the event,” Knote said.

“The students decided on 18-year-olds Rosita Green and Dai’sean Conley which identified as gender non-conforming.  The community showed at the most recent school board meeting with some parents and peers being supportive while others demanded change.  Ultimately the school made the decision that the school would stay with tradition for now and the students would decide the results of their Prom King and Queen,” he added.

“Even when I was given the crown and I put on my head, there’s a lot of boos in the crowd,” Conley said. “I didn’t hear them. I only heard the congratulating, which I was very thankful for.”

“It’s very demeaning,” Conley added. “It takes a lot for an individual to be able to bring themself back to who they are and believing in themselves and being fully confident and not letting things like that pull them out of who they are as a person.”

The Kettering City School’s Board of Education decided that the choice by the students despite the complaints would stand and the board said that it would not interfere.

The day after the board meeting, the high school received a threat via phone around 9 a.m. A spokesperson for the school district told WDTN 2 the threat was not towards one specific person, but a broad safety threat.

“Following district safety protocols, Fairmont’s on-site School Resource Officer was made aware of the phone call,” the spokesperson said.

Booking photo: Brandon Moore via Kettering Police Department

“Kettering Police were able to determine immediately that the phone call had come from a location in Beavercreek and advised Fairmont High Administration that maintaining a normal routine at the school would be helpful as they continued their investigation to identify the individual who had made the call.”

Kettering Police immediately responded with an increased presence at the school and the ensuing investigation determined that the caller was a  Beavercreek resident, Brandon Moore who was charged Wednesday, May 3, 2023, with telecommunications and disturbing the peace violations.

According to police officials Moore threatened anyone at the high school who identified LGBTQ.

“In the wake of the threatening phone call today and the increased media coverage regarding Fairmont’s 2023 Prom Court, KPD will continue to provide additional police officer coverage at the high school for the foreseeable future to assist SRO Spinks in assuring the safety of all,” the Kettering City Schools District said in a statement.

Many schools in Ohio are making the news over LGBTQ students.  Butler High School in Vandalia, Ohio cancelled prom king and queen votes because a member of the LGBTQ+ Community was nominated on April 21st

The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board removed language from their policies in the past week protecting LGBTQ+ students and staff the Dayton Daily News reported. The board approved changes to its policies Thursday that remove specific language for discrimination protections for LGBTQ staff and students, but vowed to revisit the policy in the future to accommodate stronger anti-bullying measures for those students.

Protections against discriminatory harassment would remain, including those based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, ancestry or genetic information.

Students and parents Thursday condemned the changes, saying it proves the board thinks Bellbrook’s LGBTQ students are unworthy of protection, and sends tacit approval to bullies that pick on gay kids, whether they intended to or not.

“I gotta be real, there’s a lot of bullying in this school,” said student Ethan Newell. “You’re writing the words that define the students’ lives. You’re writing a reality. You think it’s a piece of paper, to us it’s our reality.”

“As a community many feel gutted that politics and personal prejudices are standing over parental, and youth rights.  What have we become when our students are risking their safety to stand on sidewalks to hold signs and speaking at school board meeting podiums as teens out themselves to an unsupportive community pleading for a right to exist safely,” said ‘Hace A Gay Day’s Knote.

He noted that the hallways of bullying and the echo chambers of erasing the community are becoming far too common. 

“While the violence of school life and active threats is felt across the nation the students of today are powerful and will not be dismissed.  Listening to the youth that stand up for their generation gives you such hope but also makes you ask what have we become when we see people discriminating against our children and dismissing the concerns of safety,” he said.

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Trans youth sports ban fails to pass Ohio House

The Ohio bill is the latest in a year that has seen over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced. The legislation overwhelmingly targets Trans youth



Ohio State House, Columbus (Photo credit: Library of Congress)

COLUMBUS – A bill that would ban Transgender women and girls from participating in high school and college sports failed to garner enough votes to pass the Ohio House in a late night session before the Ohio Legislature adjourned for the year.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has a policy, which has been in place since 2015, that sets standards for the inclusion of Trans Ohioans in school sports. According to Equality Ohio, throughout the policy’s 10-year history, fewer than 20 Trans girls were approved to play high school girls’ sports. 

Rep. Jena Powell, a Republican representing a district north of Dayton, added anti-Trans language to H.B. 151, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Don Jones, a piece of unrelated legislation that would revise Ohio’s Teacher Residency Program.

The amended bill was introduced last June on the first day of Pride Month.

The bill that would ban Transgender women and girls from participating in high school and college sports would also require those accused of being Trans to go through a “verification process” to check their genitals. 

The Ohio bill is the latest in a year that has seen over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced. The legislation overwhelmingly targets Trans youth, from blocking participation in sports to baring access to gender-affirming care.

According to a press release from Equality Ohio, in the last two weeks—in an attempt to save face but preserve the cruelty—the genital inspection language had been replaced with equally exclusionary language that created a blanket ban on transgender girls by adding a birth certificate verification process.

Ultimately, a new amendment passed on the Senate floor coupled pieces of the ban with 2000+ pages of other large changes to Ohio’s education system. Thankfully, the gigantic amendment—including the anti-trans sports language—was voted down by the House in its entirety.

Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio, said about the victory, “I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the hundreds of community members and advocates who stood up for the rights of all transgender youth to participate in all parts of life as whole people, including sports, just like everyone else. Today is a day to celebrate that trangender Ohioans can continue to play sports with their friends and teammates. To our transgender youth: We see you, we love you, and we will always have your back.”

“TransOhio is vehemently opposed to any legislation that attempts to limit the existing rights and freedoms of trans individuals, especially when lawmakers are clearly using trans children and adolescents as pawns in political games.” said James Knapp Chair of TransOhio. “We are relieved this discriminatory bill did not advance further, but this is again a warning to stay vigilant — this is the second time in two legislative sessions that lawmakers have crammed a failing transphobic bill into an unrelated bill, trying to ram it past the legislature at the eleventh hour, while constituents are asleep.”   

“The ACLU of Ohio is relieved, for every transgender and gender-nonconforming child in this state, that early this morning the Ohio House rejected HB 151,” said Sean McCann from ACLU of Ohio. “We celebrate the fact that trans athletes woke up this morning and found out they can continue to play their favorite sports. Their courage, and the courage of their families, has been so inspiring to watch. It is because of their tireless, courageous advocacy at the Statehouse and elsewhere that this hateful bill did not make it to the Governor’s desk. The ACLU of Ohio will always stand with trans and gender non-conforming youth, and we will continue to be vigilant and prepared to fight against future attacks on their right to exist as their authentic selves.”

“We are grateful that members of the Ohio legislature saw this legislation for what it is: discrimination. All children deserve to have the same positive, affirming, and formative experiences as their peers, and those who tirelessly fought against yet another extremist attack made it clear that our most vulnerable youth deserve to be seen, heard, and protected.” Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director 

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Ohio BOE delays vote on rejecting federal LGBTQ policies

The resolution calls for the general assembly to “assist local districts in combatting federal overreach” & references “parental rights”



Ohio Board of Education building (Photo Credit: State of Ohio/Ohio Board of Education)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Board of Education sent a resolution rejecting federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies to the executive committee, delaying a vote on the measure advocates have called anti-LGBTQ. 

The resolution, introduced by board member Brandon Shea, expresses the board’s “unequivocal opposition” to a proposed Biden administration rule extending Title IX protections to LGBTQ students. In addition, it attempts to invalidate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that such interpretations will apply to its school meal program. (Ohio’s attorney general, Republican Dave Yost, joined a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s regulations.)

The measure, which was referred to committee in a 12-7 vote, states that sex is “an unchangeable fact,” adding that “[d]enying the reality of biological sex destroys foundational truths upon which education rests and irreparably damages children.”

The resolution calls for the general assembly to “assist local districts in combatting this federal overreach” and makes reference to “parental rights.” It asks state legislators to ban transgender girls from female sports teams and private facilities, prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3, and force schools to inform parents when their child changes their name or pronouns. 

LGBTQ and education advocates have railed against the resolution. Honesty for Ohio Education, a nonpartisan statewide coalition that champions honest education, notes that the guidance this resolution opposes is not a rule change or change in the law. 

Shea – who has not responded to the Los Angeles Blade’s request for comment – defended his resolution, stressing that “time is of the essence.” The measure also “acknowledges the pain experienced by those suffering with gender dysphoria” and said the “appropriate course of action to pursue for students experiencing symptoms of gender dysphoria is treatment delivered by parent-selected mental health professionals.” 

After four hours of testimony – which included comments from transgender people, both youth and adults, teachers, Conservative activists, politicians, parents and more – the board took the resolution up for a vote, beginning an extended debate over whether to send it to the executive committee. The motion passed, delaying a vote on the resolution. 

“I want this to be done, but I want it to be done right,” board member Paul LaRue said.

Supporters and opponents packed the board’s Wednesday meeting to comment on Shea’s resolution before the vote. In September, the vast majority of speakers were against the resolution. 

First, board members heard from a string of supporters of the measure – voicing concerns over “biological males” in women’s restrooms and sports. Others called transgender people a “fad,” warned against “grooming” and spoke against gender-affirming surgery for minors, which is rarely offered to adolescents. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health says the surgeries should be reserved for adults. 

Ohio state Rep. Gary Click, a Republican who introduced a bill limiting transgender health care earlier this year, said President Biden is trying to force an agenda on kids by “stealing their lunch money.” News 5 Cleveland reported in July that Click did not speak to any transgender people before authoring, introducing or giving testimony on his legislation. 

On Twitter, Equality Ohio, the state’s largest LGBTQ organization, said the speakers were anti-LGBTQ. “We are currently in the back room waiting to testify,” the group tweeted as supporters of the resolution spoke. 

Meanwhile, demonstrators stood outside the building with transgender Pride flags and signs that read “Trans kids matter” and “This teacher loves and supports trans students.” At least one demonstrator held a sign demanding the board not be “religious bullies.” 

After the first stream of speakers, opponents of the measure began to testify – many describing how dangerous the resolution could be for LGBTQ youth. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide than those who did not. (Some speakers said the Trevor Project is not a valid source.) 

“I will be one of the people who would have to clean up the mess you left behind,” Rev. Andy Burns, a United Methodist Church pastor from Columbus, said – adding the resolution will harm children. 

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Community shows support for Cincinnati Trans teen after prank

She was called into the guidance counselor’s office and told parents had said her nomination could have been part of a “mean-spirited joke”



Cassie and Kat Steiner WCPO ABC 9 News (Screenshot/YouTube)

CINCINNATI – A Cincinnati-area transgender teen made local headlines last week after her classmates voted her Homecoming Princess as a “mean-spirited joke.” Instead of opting out, the sophomore kept her crown and used the opportunity to promote acceptance – prompting widespread community support.  

Cassie Steiner, a student at Mariemont High School in the Cincinnati suburbs, was thrilled when she first learned her peers voted her to homecoming court. “Just the thought that I had a chance to make history here,” she told Cincinnati news station FOX 19

“I was absolutely thrilled and was really excited to understand and learn that our daughter was going to be the very first trans princess at Mariemont and perhaps even in the city,” her mother, Katt Steiner, added. 

The Steiners declined to be interviewed by the Los Angeles Blade. 

The very next day, according to FOX 19, Cassie Steiner was called into the guidance counselor’s office and told parents had said her nomination could have been part of a “mean-spirited joke.”

“It kind of brought down my spirits a little bit,” she said. 

In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Kat Steiner said she was angry and disgusted after receiving the news from the counselor. 

Cassie Steiner was given the option to decline her nomination and opt out of homecoming court. But the teen decided against that, opting to wear the crown with her head held high. 

“Well, it certainly was disheartening,” Cassie Steiner told The Enquirer. “But it gave me hope, because knowing that I had haters and I had people who I can alter their corrupted mindsets, made me empowered to do more.”

Her mother added: “She didn’t hesitate to own the fact that she was not going to back down. She knew that she was going to be a trailblazer.”

For Cassie Steiner, that was just the beginning of her story. Her mom, Kat, took to Facebook to garner support for her daughter ahead of the high school’s homecoming parade. 

“Cassie is taking the high ground and making history as trans royalty,” the post said, per The Enquirer. “She’s owning her title as the sophomore Homecoming Princess because, well, when they go low, we go high. We choose to celebrate!”

The community, the newspaper reported, showed up at the parade with an outpouring of support. LGBTQ Pride flags lined the parade route, and attendees held signs that read: “We love you, Cassie” and “Cassie is my warrior.”

The Enquirer reported that the school district did not respond to questions from the outlet. However, the district did send out a media statement outlining the process by which students are elected to homecoming court without directly addressing the prank.

The Blade left a message with the district but has yet to receive a response. According to The Enquirer, Kat Steiner said she has yet to get an apology from any school administrators. 

But Cassie Steiner was happy to receive support from her community. “I don’t think people deserve to be hated,” she said. “Even if they hate me, I don’t like being mean to them, because I think that everyone deserves their own light in our world.

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Opponents of LGBTQ resolution pack Ohio school board meeting

“I’m not a divisive concept. I’m a teenage girl who wants to graduate from high school, go to college, get a job and live my life”



Screenshot/YouTube WBNS TV

COLUMBUS, Ohio – People packed an Ohio State Board of Education meeting Tuesday, many protesting a controversial resolution that opponents say will discriminate against LGBTQ students. 

The resolution, introduced by board member Brandon Shea, expresses the board’s opposition to a federal law requiring schools to investigate claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or risk losing school breakfast and lunch funding. Those investigations could include, according to the U.S. Department of Education, denying transgender students to use gendered facilities that correspond with their gender identity, keeping transgender kids from playing sports and allowing incorrect pronouns. 

It states that sex is “an unchangeable fact,” adding that “[d]enying the reality of biological sex destroys foundational truths upon which education rests and irreparably damages children.”

The resolution claimed the Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations “would require that K-12 schools socially transition minor children to a different gender without requiring parental notification or involvement,” calling it harmful. 

Tuesday’s meeting was packed with 61 people, according to the Statehouse News Bureau, most of whom opposed the board’s resolution. 

Ada Wood, a 24-year-old transgender woman, was one of them. She spoke to the board about the disproportionally high rates of poor mental health and suicide amongst transgender youth, “which, quite frankly, you would already know if you knew anything about the topics of which you are attempting change laws.” 

“If you pass this resolution, children will die,” Wood said.

Dawn Riggs, an educator of 30-plus years from Logan, Ohio, also spoke against the resolution. She said she had experiences with LGBTQ kids in her career, adding they “knew they would be safe for at least a little while each day” in her class.

“It is no burden to use a name that we are asked to use,” she said. “It is no burden to use the pronouns that are shared with us.”

Conner McLaren, a transgender student, told the board: “I’m not a divisive concept. I’m a teenage girl who wants to graduate from high school, go to college, get a job and live my life. Please don’t make things harder for the community I am here to represent. Don’t let our school become one more bully we have to deal with.”

Though many speakers spoke against the resolution, some supported it. One supporter, Allison Lindsey, worried her daughter with Down syndrome could be harmed by gender-affirming bathroom policies. According to a Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law study, there is no link between trans-inclusive policies and bathroom safety. 

“Often female students with disabilities need assistance when they get older and have begun their menstrual cycles,” Lindsey said. “Will I be accused of sex-based discrimination if I request that transgender women who are staff not help my daughter with her menstrual cycle at school?”

Shea did not respond to the Los Angeles Blade’s request for comment. But he did respond to the criticism at the meeting. 

“It’s awfully burdensome and heavy handed for the federal government to force every school in the nation to adopt radical gender identity policies to continue to receive federal funds and for the record,” Shea said. “It’s the regulations I’m saying are burdensome, not students who trans identify.” 
According to, the board will vote on the resolution during its next meeting on Oct. 11-12.

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Jim Obergefell wins in Democratic primary in Ohio legislative House race

Obergefell’s primary win comes as the right he stood to secure has now returned to mainstream political debate



Jim Obergefell (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

SANDUSKY, Oh. – The lead plaintiff in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country has won his Democratic primary for the Ohio House of Representatives.

Following Tuesday’s primary elections in several states across the country, Jim Obergefell has secured the Democratic nomination in his bid to become the next Ohio state legislator in the 89th House District.

His nomination comes as the right he stood to secure has now returned to mainstream political debate.

Following a summer of tumultuous uncertainty over privacy-related rights like nationwide same-sex marriage, Obergefell, who lives in Sandusky, alluded to the current state of LGBTQ rights and the importance of his candidacy.

“This is a critical election for the LGBTQ community,” Obergefell said in a statement after officially securing the nomination. “When I win this election, I will work hard to improve the lives of the people in the district and across Ohio by increasing jobs and opportunities, improving access to affordable healthcare and protecting our environment. With so much at stake for our nation, I will also be a voice and advocate for all Ohioans and especially underserved and marginalized communities.”

With his high-profile status among the advocacy community, Obergefell has already secured the support of well-known organizations including the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

“Jim Obergefell’s name is already legendary in the LGBTQ+ community as the man who won marriage equality for everyone in the United States,” interim HRC President Joni Madison said in a statement in mid-July. “Many people would be content with such a legacy — but Obergefell is not one to rest on his laurels.”

Obergefell’s years-long renown has also secured him fiscal support from around the country.

Campaign finance reports detail Obergefell having raised more $217,000 this year, with contributions from high-profile activists and philanthropists including actress Ashley Judd and Victory Institute board member Desiree Asher.

Victory Fund President Annise Parker released a statement following Tuesday’s election.

“Many within the LGBTQ community look to Jim for leadership and inspiration during trying times,” Parker said. “It is encouraging that his call to action for the LGBTQ community — that we must remain united in our shared fight for a more equitable future for the next generation of LGBTQ people — has been delivered on the campaign trail as a candidate himself.”

And where Obergefell would provide meaningful and needed legislative support, Parker asserted, his candidacy also represents a message about LGBTQ influence in areas far outside District 89.

“We are confident that come November, he will prove a skilled legislator with the political wherewithal to get meaningful reform done,” Parker said. “His success is also a rallying cry to the LGBTQ community and our allies that we won’t stop organizing, we won’t stop running for office and we won’t back down.”

Obergefell will face incumbent state Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) in November.

Swearingen, who first assumed the office in 2019, was reelected in 2020 with more than 57 percent of the vote. Swearingen has a recorded history of voting in favor of anti-LGBTQ legislation.

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