Proposed Ohio law would force teachers to 'out' transgender youth

Even more than youth who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, transgender teens face some of the country's most extr...

Posted: Jun 29, 2018 8:53 PM
Updated: Jun 29, 2018 8:53 PM

Even more than youth who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, transgender teens face some of the country's most extreme rates of anxiety, rejection and public fear based on their identities. Staying in the closet can be stressful; coming out, depending on the situation, can be dangerous.

Transgender advocates said Wednesday a proposed Ohio law could increase that danger tenfold by forcing other adults in a transgender child's life, including teachers, to "out" them to their families without their consent.

"This is really a ridiculous piece of legislation," Living with Change Foundation founder and Pure Romance CEO Chris Cicchinelli, who became involved in LGBTQ activism on behalf of his transgender daughter, said.

House Bill 658, proposed by Republican Reps. Tom Brinkman annd Paul Zeltwanger, would require that "if a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child … demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child's biological sex," it must "immediately notify, in writing, each of the child's parents and the child's guardian or custodian."

House Bill 658 would also mandate that no "treatment," including counseling or educational materials, be provided to to the child without written parental consent. If a teacher wanted to direct a transgender or questioning student to a school counselor or books with more information about gender identity, they could face felony charges for doing so.

Parents who refused to allow their child access to such materials, however, would not face any reprisal.

"Parents have the right to decide what is best for their children," Brinkman said while defending the proposal before fellow representatives.

The law was inspired by the case of a Hamilton County transgender boy whose grandparents won custody after his parents refused to allow him to pursue a transition. Instead of hormone replacement therapy, his parents insisted he receive Christian counseling -- and, according to testimony from the boy, forced him to "live in terror" and told him to kill himself.

Officials from Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services also testified that the parents' home was an unsafe environment for the boy and that they desired "to parent a child who, in reality, no longer exists" rather than care for their son.

In a 2018 Human Rights Campaign survey of LGBTQ youth, about 41 percent of transgender respondents said they were not out to either of their parents. Trans youth were also found twice as likely to be bullied or mocked by family members as lesbian, gay and bisexual counterparts.

"I feel that school has never been a safe space for me to be," one respondent wrote. "I don't want my parents to hear that I am transgender."

The danger they face if they come out to an unwelcoming family is real, Lighthouse Youth and Family Services program director Melissa Meyer said.

"We know that when a young person comes out or is out, that's a really vulnerable time for them," she said.

About 37 percent of transgender people attempt suicide before the age of 24, often due to high rates of familial and social rejection, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Meyer runs a program, Safe and Supported Families, meant to help families with young transgender members work through their feelings together and preserve bonds even as parts of their family life change. Its two goals, she said, are keeping children safe and keeping families together.

Brinkman and Zeltwanger's bill will go before the legislature in the fall.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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