by Mike Moroski

Rep. Brinkman and Rep. Zeltwanger have introduced HB 658 just in time for their summer break. The perfect time to get legislation passed when no one is paying attention and they can go away and hopefully spend some much-needed time with family away from Columbus. Truly, I hope these two men get a nice break from the rough & tumble world of politics. I also hope that their families do not have any children experiencing gender dysphoria. Why? Because their co-sponsored bill would make those children’s lives harder and increase their risk of depression, and, at worst, suicidal thoughts.

You see, being a child is tough (I know, I was one. . .I also taught teenagers for ten years, and served as their assistant principal for almost two years). Being a child with gender dysphoria is even tougher. So tough, in fact, that these children have far higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital & Medical Center reports that “fifty-eight percent [of transgender youth] had at least one additional psychiatric diagnosis in addition to gender dysphoria. Nearly 63 percent indicated a history of bullying, 23.1 percent a history of school suspension or expulsion, 19.3 percent involvement in physical fights and 17.1 percent repeating a grade in school.” Furthermore, “30 percent of transgender youth report a history of at least one suicide attempt, and nearly 42 percent report a history of self-injury, such as cutting.”

Rep. Brinkman and Rep. Zeltwanger’s bill would allow parents or guardians to withhold treatment for their child’s gender dysphoria if they are under 18. It would also require government agencies and schools to notify a child’s parents or guardians in writing if the child is exhibiting any traits of gender dysphoria.

Yes, parents have rights. Yet, if a parent holds beliefs that are contradictory to their children do we really need legislators passing laws that help parents force their beliefs down their kids’ throats? Does that not seem to be a bit much? Maybe your children are different than you. And maybe that’s ok! In fact, maybe that’s really great and we should celebrate our children!

We have data suggesting that these kinds of bills actually hurt a child’s ability to live a happy, healthy, and successful life. That seems as if it should be enough to fight their passage. I, for one, want our kids to be able to have awesome lives without a bureaucrat telling them how they should live.

So, let me be perfectly clear: If a child is experiencing gender dysphoria and confides in a trusted teacher, administrator, cafeteria worker, janitor, guidance counselor, or other caring adult in a school (as is often the case with young people who have an easier time talking to school officials than their parents), and that adult is required to out that child to his/her parents, we have just taught that child they cannot trust that trusted adult.

This lesson of distrust, combined with societal factors already making it difficult to be a young person, combined with gender dysphoria, has just made it easier for this child to be depressed and think negative thoughts.

Some of our legislators do a good job fighting for the right of a human to be born, but they do a pretty lousy job fighting for a society that embraces that child once he/she is in it. This is very sad, and HB 658 flies in the face of the “pro-life” rhetoric espoused by these legislators.

So, pay attention, Ohio. . .and let your representatives know that HB 658 is a pointless and hateful bill that should go away as our legislator go home for a much-needed break. Perhaps on their break they will be rejuvenated & refreshed and go back to Columbus with clearer eyes; eyes that take into account others’ lived experiences that are different than their own.

Mike Moroski is a member of the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education

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