Prosecutor Requests Clarification from Ohio Attorney General People Can Use Their

A Greene County prosecutor requested an opinion from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on whether Ohio civil rights law requires local governments to permit individuals to use public restrooms according to their stated gender identity rather than their biological sex.

The formal request filed by Greene County Prosecutor David Hayes was filed last week as people who prefer to use their stated gender identity over their biological sex is an area of the law that is receiving increasing attention throughout the United States and in the state of Ohio. Both public and private institutions are up against questions and lawsuits over policies relating to biological males being permitted to use biological females’ public restrooms and changing facilities.

According to Hayes, this is a matter of increasing public importance, and since the law is unclear in these matters, it has caused concern among his clients who have public buildings and facilities.

“Whenever there is an area of the law that is unclear, everyone benefits from some clarity,” Hayes told The Springfield News-Sun Wednesday.

The request specifically asks for clarification on the Ohio Civil Rights Commission‘s (ORCC) authority in enforcing cases of sex and gender discrimination and if policies that limit an individual’s use of a restroom, changing room, or locker room to an individual’s biological sex would be a violation of Ohio law. The filing continued to inquire if those violations would come with civil liabilities and clarification on definitions of sex discrimination and public accommodations.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, attorney general opinions provide valuable advice to public officials and are useful in guiding the actions of those officials. Although attorney general opinions are not binding on the courts, courts usually give formal opinions careful consideration.

Ohio individuals using a stated gender identity over biological sex in public restrooms and changing facilities have garnered attention with Bethel Local School District, located in Tipp City north of Dayton, facing a lawsuit from Muslim and Christian parents after permitting students to use bathrooms according to their stated gender identity rather than their biological sex. American First Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the parents. The lawsuit accuses the district of violating Title IX protections for students and violating parental rights.

In the city of Xenia, controversy ignited around the “transgender” usage of public accommodations with the Xenia YMCA locker room policy. The YMCA cited Ohio civil rights law while defending the allowance of a biological male to use the women’s locker room earlier this year.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said people have good reason to be wary of these policies.

“People are afraid and for good reason, because they have had experiences where they were in places where they were vulnerable and someone hurt them. The presence of a male of any variety whether he’s someone who identifies as trans or not whether he has deviant motives or not is irrelevant to the reality that survivors of sexual trauma to just turn around and be exposed to that’s an instant trigger. Policies that open up bathrooms and locker rooms to members of the opposite sex send the message that privacy and safety do not matter,” ADF said.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the time to respond to opinion requests differs. An assigned attorney conducts a comprehensive review of the related laws to the inquiries and then prepares a draft opinion for the attorney general to review. The opinion undergoes several reviews before presentation to the attorney general for approval and signature.

Pending opinion requests can be viewed on the Ohio Attorney General’s website, and those interested in a request for an opinion can submit comments online.

Hayes’s request for an opinion is still pending at this time.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Dave Yost and David Hayes” by Dave Yost. 




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