It is nearly impossible to turn on the news today and not see a divisive headline taking aim at the LGBTQ+ community. Governors are directing their Health Departments to “investigate” parents of transgender children as “child abusers.” Elected leaders are describing anyone who affirms LGBTQ+ youth as “groomers.” Policies are seeking to prohibit kids from talking about their LGBTQ+ parents or “say gay'' in schools.
The LGBTQ+ community has been fighting for basic equality for decades, but this moment is different. Indeed, more than 250 preemption bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community were introduced in 2022 alone. Eighteen states have already passed preemptive laws banning our transgender youth from playing sports on the team matching their gender identity. Three states have banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth––a step that directly contradicts every major medical association’s best practices, recommendations, and ethical obligations. LGBTQ+ youth, particularly our transgender and nonbinary youth, are being sent a clear message by these states and the threats of these policies: You do not belong.
Ohio is at the center of these culture and policy fights, and thus far, with the support of the American Heart Association through Voices for Healthy Kids, we have held the line. Equality Ohio is the statewide LGBTQ+ education and advocacy organization. We work to change hearts, minds, laws, and lives. We're proud to have worked closely with Kaleidoscope Youth Center, an LGBTQ+ youth serving organization based in Columbus with statewide reach, to fight these bills statewide. By orchestrating a powerful coalition of groups in Ohio who care about our transgender youth—from Ohio doctors and hospitals, to coaches and sports teams, to business leaders, parents and LGBTQ+ youth themselves—we have prevented these harmful bills from passing thus far. Through powerful one-on-one legislator meetings, educational videos like the ones you can find at #OhioCanPlay, and emotional testimony, we are holding our elected leaders accountable to protecting our LGBTQ+ youth.