(Reuters) – Ohio’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban transgender girls from school sports and require verification from a doctor if a student’s sex is called into question.
The provision was a last-minute addition to an unrelated bill that passed in a marathon session late on Wednesday, the first day of Pride month. The bill next goes to a vote in the state Senate when it reconvenes in several months after a recess.
The Ohio House’s Republican majority took a similar step last year but that effort ultimately failed.
More than half a dozen states have passed or enacted similar provisions this year alone.
Unlike most of the others, the Ohio measure would require students whose sex is “disputed” to provide a physician’s statement verifying “internal and external reproductive anatomy” and other criteria.
Ohio schools that violate the proposed rules could face lawsuits.
These provisions target “a handful of Ohio students and their families who simply want to play sports like everyone else,” LGBTQ rights group Equality Ohio said in a statement.
The Ohio High School Association (OSHAA) has had a transgender policy in place for 10 years during which there have been “fewer than 20 transgender girls approved to play high school girls sports,” according Equality Ohio and OSHAA.
Conservative Republican proponents of such legislation argue it is necessary to give girls a level playing field in sports.
Democrats and other opponents say the laws are harmful, unnecessary and unjustly target an already marginalized, vulnerable group.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Donna Bryson and Cynthia Osterman)