Ohio lawmakers’ hateful policy targets vulnerable children

Sam Shim is the first Asian American in Columbus to be elected to public office. He served on the Worthington City Schools Board of Education for eight years. Shim continues to be a strong supporter of public education and believes that schools should be safe environments for LGBTQ students and students of color.

Earlier this summer, politicians in the Ohio General Assembly introduced a bill that would have required every student athlete to undergo a full external and internal genital inspection. if you are accused or suspected of being transgender. The ironically named “Save Women’s Sports Act” would give public access to our girls’ private parts.

For many girls and boys, sport is an opportunity to gain confidence. Which girl is going to do her best on and off the pitch after being forced to show her genitals?

Destiny Clark, a Birmingham healthcare worker, holds up a sign during a protest against bills to outlaw treatment for young transgender people on March 2, 2022.

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This legislation joins a number of other anti-child and anti-education bills promoted by extremist politicians in the Ohio General Assembly, including bills that bleach story, double censorshipand ban gender-affirming health care for children.

People listen to speakers during a rally protesting lawmakers meeting to override Governor Eric Holcomb's veto of Bill 1041, the ban on transgender sports on May 24, 2022 at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis , Ind.  Lawmakers then overruled Holcomb's veto.

These politicians have targeted Ohio’s most vulnerable children, time and time again, and launched an all-out attack on public education in our state.

For me, this fight is personal. I am the proud father of two amazing children.

They are excellent students, great friends and one of them is transgender. The politicians placed a target on my oldest teenager and would allow anyone’s child to become a target as well. These bills are very offensive and are designed to marginalize and hurt students – this is simply not acceptable.

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After widespread public backlash, these politicians said they could kill the genital inspection part of the bill. I’m not convinced they will. But it still raises the troubling question: Why did any of these politicians ever believe did they have the right to inspect the bodies of our children? And why are they injecting their hateful and toxic politics into our children’s schools and sports teams?

Sam Shim is the first Asian American in Columbus to be elected to public office.  He served on the Worthington City Schools Board of Education for eight years.  Shim continues to be a strong supporter of public education and believes that schools should be safe environments for LGBTQ students and students of color.

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As a former school board member, I have worked closely with teachers and families to help make our schools great so students can thrive. Worthington City Schools is proud to be a diverse and inclusive school district. In 2017, we added protections for our transgender students and staff to our official board policy.

Now radical Ohio politicians are disrupting that work by pushing divisive politics. This year we have witnessed an unprecedented attack on our schools that has hurt our educators, our families and our students.

Following in Florida’s footsteps, copycat bills arrived in Ohio like House Bill 616 and the prohibition of “concepts which divide”. This legislation advances the political interests of a nationwide network of corporate-backed legislators and lobbyists focused on sowing distrust in our institutions, not the needs or wants of our students and the state. These invoices are designed to sow mistrust among studentsfamilies, teachers and local communities and harm our students.

The good news is that we know what these politicians are doing, and there are organizations fighting back. groups like Equality Ohio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Campaign for our shared future (COSF), and Honesty for Ohio Education who share my belief that every child deserves an honest, high-quality education grounded in truth, facts, and diverse perspectives, regardless of background, race, or zip code.

Rachel Jones and her daughters Julia, Felicia and Sophia listen to speakers during a protest against the transgender sports bill at the Statehouse in Ohio on June 24.

These groups work to prevent the introduction, adoption and implementation of harmful policies against education in Ohio and to refocus the needs of children in our education policy and ensure that every child of Ohio has access to a free, inclusive and excellent K-12. schools.

Parents and teachers understand better what our students and communities need than hardline politicians in the Ohio General Assembly. They have shown us that they care more about hyperpolitical culture wars than seeing the children of our state prosper and succeed.

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With all this talk of what is appropriate for our children, I can’t think of any age where it’s okay to suffer the humiliation of having your gender publicly questioned. We need to keep politicians’ hands off our daughters.

Sam Shim is the first Asian American in Columbus to be elected to public office. He served on the Worthington City Schools Board of Education for eight years. Shim continues to be a strong supporter of public education and believes that schools should be safe environments for LGBTQ students and students of color.

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