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Ohio Families File Legal Challenge Against Impending Restrictions on Gender-Affirming Care

— March 30, 2024

Attorneys from Goodwin and the ACLU claim that Ohio’s controversial House Bill 68, which would limit gender-affirming care for transgender children and curb transgender athletes’ participation in girls’ and women’s sports, violates numerous provisions of the state constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and law firm Goodwin have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Ohio House Bill 68, a recently-passed act that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender children and prohibit transgender student-athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports.

According to ABC News, the ACLU and Goodwin have since asked the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to find that House Bill 68’s provisions—specifically those relating to medical care—are unlawful, and to prevent them from taking effect on April 24, 2024.

In their complaint, attorneys say that physicians accused of providing gender-affirming care to transgender children could be “subject to discipline by the appliable professional licensing board.”

House Bill 68, adds ABC News, does detail several exceptions to its provisions: it permits access to gender-affirming care for non-transgender youth, and would allow transgender youth already receiving such treatment to continue receiving care even after enforcement begins in April.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Ohio families who claim that their children will no longer be able to obtain “critical, medically necessary” care if H.B. 68 is allowed to stand.

LGBTQ flag. Image via Quote Catalog, Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

Attorneys for the plaintiff families also claim that the act violates four sections of the Ohio Constitution, including its Equal Protection clause—a provision that stipulates that the state’s congress shall make no rule or law that “prohibit[s] the purchase or sale of Health Care or health insurance.”

“Specifically, [House Bill 68] discriminates against [transgender children] based on their sex designated at birth, based on the incongruence between their sex and gender identity, based on their transgender status, and based on their failure to conform to stereotypes and expected behavior associated with their sex designated at birth,” the complaint alleges.

Furthermore, the lawsuit suggests that the content of H.B. 68 is itself problematic, in that it seeks to regulate both access to medical care and participation in athletics—a purported violation of Ohio’s single-subject rule.

“By combining these two discrete subject matters into a single bill, H.B. 68 contains a disunity of subject matter,” attorneys wrote. “In sum, the General Assembly passed a bill containing more than one subject, in violation of the Ohio Constitution.”

Freda Levenson, the legal director of the ACLU of Ohio, said that the state has no business regulating children’s access to physician-recommended medical care.

“These personal, private medical decisions should remain between families and doctors. They don’t belong to politicians,” Levenson said. “We will fight in court to ensure that trans youth and their parents can access critically important, lifesaving healthcare without government intrusion.”

However, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost—a Republican—said that his office is prepared to defend the legality of House Bill 68 in court.

“We protect children with various restrictions that do not apply to adults—from signing legal contracts to buying alcohol and tobacco and more,” Yost said in a social media statement. “As I promised during the veto override, my office will defend this constitutional statute.”


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