Episode 71: Standing Up for Trans Kids and Secular Freedom in Ohio
When Ohio’s political landscape takes a turn that sends shivers down the spine of every advocate for trans rights, it demands a response—mine is unapologetically fiery. The recent override of Governor DeWine’s veto on House Bill 68 is more than just a legislative move; it’s a cold shoulder to the well-being of trans kids who deserve gender-affirming care and the right to participate in sports. In this episode, we propose legislative changes that champion the rights of all children. From challenging religious exemptions to advocating for initiatives like free school lunches, we confront the political maneuvers that threaten to undermine our shared values of compassion and equality.
We wade through the murky waters where religion and freedom intersect, casting a spotlight on the secular challenges emerging in state legislatures. We examine the recently released State of the Secular States Report from American Atheists. These reports will tell you where your state stands on real religious freedom or has it been consumed by fake moral panics in 2024. Join us for a crucial examination of these pressing social issues and the integral role they play in the broader narrative of human rights and secularism in America.
01:01 Gary Click’s Attack on Trans Kids
13:25 American Atheists State of the Secular States Report
Editor’s Note: During the segment about the State of the Secular States report Douglas talks about Ohio’s scorecard. At one point he says:
we don’t have comprehensive sex education. We don’t have a law protecting children from being married, from child marriage.
Technically Douglas is wrong. According to Ohio Revised Code 3101.01 both parties to be married MUST be 18 years of age or older. There is an exception if either party is 17 years old where they get consent from a juvenile court and wait 14 days. Ohio law was updated in 2019.
Here is the explanation of the state scorecard on that issue:
Protection From Child Marriage
This item indicates laws that prohibit individuals below the age of majority (usually 18) from marrying. Because exceptions, such as those allowing parental consent, can be misused to force children to marry, we are only counting those laws which flatly prohibit the marriage of minors.
Because American Atheists only counts laws that prohibit marriage of minors and Ohio doesn’t have that, then the state scorecard says there is no law protecting child from marriage.
Since the statement, in context is correct, that bit of the recording will remain in place.
Click Here to Read Full Transcript
00:02 – Voice Over (Announcement)
This is Glass City Humanist a show about humanism, humanist values, by a humanist. Here is your host, Douglas Berger.
00:11 – Douglas (Host)
Reverend Gary Click, the Fremont Baptist preacher who pretends to be an Ohio representative, spikes the football, smiles and laughs as the Ohio House overrides a governor veto on Click’s gender-affirming care and trans women in sports ban. And we look at the recent release of the state of the secular states report from American atheists.
00:33 – Voice Over (Announcement)
Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the secular humanists of western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.
01:01 – Douglas (Host)
We start off 2024 with the Ohio House overriding the veto of Governor DeWine on the House Bill 68 that bans gender-affirming care for trans kids, and it also would prohibit parents from supporting their trans kids because it would prohibit any gender-affirming care. It would also affect the less than a handful of trans women who are on sports teams high school sports teams in Ohio. It would kick them off. And then, of course, then we have the governor had signed an executive order that outlawed gender-changing surgery for minors, which never happens. It’s not part of the regular care that doctors give to trans kids, those under 18. Surgery is always the last thing that happens and it usually happens when they’re adults. They’re over 18, in a majority of cases. But yeah, so the pro-life party is continuing their attacks on a vulnerable group of people simply because they can. They have no accountability at all. As president of the secular humanists of western Lake Erie, I sent a letter to members of the representatives from my area in northwest Ohio that voted to override the veto. We have Reverend Gary Klick from Fremont, who basically spiked the football and was smiling in pictures when the override went through. Then we have Joshua Williams, who doesn’t understand the concept, but it’s against it anyway because he’s a Republican, he’s supposed to. Derek Marin voted for the override. Susan Manchester, in the Lima area, voted for it. Gungbara, who has a primary coming up in the Perrysburg area, he voted for it, made a little speech, even put it up on his website. Look at me, I’m attacking trans kids. It’s disgusting. It’s just disgust me and I’m sorry this gets me so upset when these guys do these things. I sent them a letter and it pretty much went. The part that I’m going to read, the part that I pointed out, says your lack of empathy and compassion on this issue is appalling. We are sure it goes against any religious tenets you claim to follow, because most of these attacks on the LGBT community is religiously based. House Bill 68 is a perfect example of why we must keep church and state separate. Harming people using religious beliefs is something we see from groups like Hamas and the Taliban.
If you really want to protect children, we expect you to do the following incoming legislative sessions. Introduce and or support the repeal of Ohio Rev Code 2151.03, which allows parents to withhold medical care from children if it’s for religious reasons. The Faith Healing Exemption has been on the book since the 1980s. Introduce and or support the repeal of Ohio Rev Code 3313.671, paragraph B, number 4, that allows parents to opt out their children from mandated child vaccines for religious reasons. There was just a news report I saw this week that there’s been another spike in measles cases because parents are not getting the mandatory vaccinations for their children.
Then the next point I point out stop funding so-called crisis pregnancy centers with state tax dollars. In recent years a budget has included millions of dollars for these clinics that mislead women looking for pregnancy support. That money could be used to support children after birth. Next point introduce and or support legislation to provide free school lunches to all public school children in Ohio. The most recent Ohio budget included more funding for low cost lunches, but when an amendment was added to make it free for all school children, that amendment was voted down. And then the final point I put in here was to support the state participating in the federal summer food EBT program. That would help children in need get food over the summer when school is out and the need for nutritious food continues.
A recent article I saw in the news 15 states have refused to participate in the summer EBT program. All of the states are led by Republicans. One of the governors from Nebraska even said quote was quoted in an article saying that he did not believe in welfare. Another one was that just giving kids the food without the prophylatizing for nutrition and whatever else agenda that they have that they want to teach the kids, is not something that they want to do. So basically, it’s like how they treat poor people normally is. They shame poor people for being poor, they shame people that struggle for struggling and they create all these barriers and obstacles to getting needed help because they think that they don’t deserve it, that they’ve made poor choices, and it’s ridiculous.
Again, I apologize for being so emotional about this. It’s something that’s close to my heart because growing up my family was on public assistance at times and just having to get up at six o’clock in the morning to go stand in line at a welfare office to see a caseworker Nobody has to do that except poor people. Nowadays they have these phone systems that you’re supposed to call Good luck. If you don’t call before eight o’clock in the morning, you don’t talk to anybody. Like I said, they put all these obstacles in place, trying to prevent people from getting benefits that they’ve paid in tax money to receive over the years. You know it’d be just like taking away Social Security from Grandma and Grandpa. Oh, by the way, the Freedom Caucus in Washington DC, led by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, wants to do just that. They want to take away Social Security from Grandma and Grandpa. And so it’s just very distressing here at the beginning of the year.
These kids, these trans kids, should not be attacked, they should not be vilified, they should be loved. They should be loved, they should be supported. It doesn’t do any harm in giving them gender-affirming care. You’re not protecting children by preventing them from getting this care. All you’re doing is kicking the can down the road, which would either lead to them hurting themselves or hurting other people. Because when you’re in a situation where your mental health is compromised, that’s what can happen you can either hurt yourself or you can hurt other people. And it just galls me that people who claim to be Christian especially Reverend Gary Klick in Fremont, who runs the Baptist Church, who supports conversion therapy of gay kids, smiling as that override was passed, laughing because he got to hurt trans kids and I just really had to get that out of my system. Our group is still supporting the trans community in any way that we can. I’ve sent these letters. I’ve talked to the legislators that are supportive of the LGBT community. I sent them these points and I told them. And talk to your colleagues and get them to introduce these bills. If they really want to protect children, they’ll remove the faith healing exemption, they’ll remove the vaccine religious exemptions, they’ll support free school lunches, but I can tell you they’re not going to do that.
The Ohio legislature in 2023 was the least accomplished legislature in the history of the state of Ohio.
They only passed 16 bills 16 bills in the entire year and, of course, most of those bills were the red meat culture war. This is stuff where we can hurt trans kids and LGBT people. They had over. They had several hundred people tell these legislators not to pass House Bill 68. You had the medical community. Their consensus said don’t pass this bill and yet they still passed it.
They ignored it. They ignored the medical community and, in fact, reverend click is going around saying that it’s an industry, that these children’s hospital industries are looking for kids to change their gender. You know, like like they’re driving around in a van saying, hey, kid, you want some candy and become a boy or a girl, and people believe this. People out in in the rural areas of Ohio believe this because it fits in with their the way that they perceive things going on, when they, when they get their misinformation from the news sources that they claim tell the truth and they don’t. And then you have people that their job is to preach to their flock and they’re preaching bigotry. Later, reverend Click and Representative Josh Wilson and Derek Marin, senator Theresa Gabarone, she put out a public statement that she’s going to be pleased, as punch, to vote to override the governor’s veto when it gets to the Senate. And so what you need to do is you need to contact your legislator, tell them how you feel, because we’ve got to do something about this.
13:11 – Voice Over (Announcement)
For more information about the topics in this episode, including links used, please visit the episode page at GlassCityHumanistshow.
13:25 – Douglas (Host)
One of the things that I wanted to point out. I know last last episode we talked about the Freedom of Thought report that was released by Humanist International and then this past week, the week of January the 17th American atheists released their State of the Secular States report. It’s something that they’ve been doing for the past six years, where they take a look at the state houses around the country to find out how negatively impacted or positively impacted they’ve been towards religious freedom or religious equality. What they did was that they took these issues, looked at these issues, scored the states and they have published the scorecards on their website. They had a formal webinar about this on the 17th. Unfortunately, I missed it or I probably would have clips of some of the people that spoke, including Nick Fish, who’s the president of American Atheists, and some of their staff people. What’s interesting about it is they take a look at these different issues in the states and they have these scorecards so that you know at a glance, once you know what the key is, how a state is doing in particular issues. They’ll look at certain categories like constitutional and non-discrimination protections, and then under that, they’ll look at state establishment clause, state free exercise clause. Then they’ll have non-discrimination laws for employment, housing, public accommodations, education. Then they’ll take a look at religious exemptions and religious tests for offices and they’ll go through each state and look at these items and score the state. And so, as part of their introduction on their website they talk about the reports now assess more than 60 statewide law and policy measures, both positive and negative, pertaining to religious equality and the separation of religion and government in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. This report analysis analysis, that’s a bad word four categories of public policy in each state that affect religious equality and the separation of religion and government. As I said, it was, constitutional and non-discrimination protections, special privileges for religion, health care and wellness, and education and youth, and, within each category, laws and policies that positively and negatively impact religious equality are listed, along with a brief explanation of the topic.
Some of the issues that they don’t look at or don’t add to these scorecards that they plan on looking at later, possibly in future scorecards, are laws that prevent religious cohesion from mandated substance abuse disorder programs. They had that court case in West Virginia where a judge sentenced somebody and told them they couldn’t get out of jail unless they went to an AA meeting and they refused because of the religious content. Other issues are restrictions on hospital mergers. There’s quite a few Catholic-based hospitals that are buying up none sectarian hospitals and then imposing their Catholic agenda on these purchased hospitals to the detriment of people who are looking for a religious free or religious neutral medical care. And then another issue is religion and state mandated oaths. We still have some oaths where it’s so hope you got, even though you aren’t supposed to have to say it. There’s still some state mandated oaths that have that. Then you have separation of religion and government and prison and reentry programs, laws restricting private businesses from requiring vaccinations and laws that inhibit effective enforcement of church state separation in court and laws that give special protection for religious speech over other types of free speech. And then the state regulation of health care sharing ministries. This is something new, something I just heard about. Recently. There’s been some ministries that have developed in the country where they provide medical, but they provide health insurance to religious people in churches and it’s a ministry, so it’s a religiously based health insurance, and there’s been a lot of problems with these health insurances because they aren’t sustainable. They’ve lost money, they haven’t paid out the promised benefits and people have paid in premiums and lost coverage or haven’t had coverage provided, so it needs to be regulated.
The American atheists are also looking at some national issues throughout the states, such as bans on health care for trans youth, as I stated in a previous segment in this episode, house Bill 68 here in Ohio, which still hasn’t come into force yet, but so the Ohio scorecard doesn’t note it, but it probably will the next year’s scorecard if that law gets over. You know, if the veto governor’s veto gets overwritten, it becomes a law, and so the information that they put under bans on health care for trans youth is pretty much what I’ve been saying. It’s displaying a fundamental lack of understanding of trans youth. These medical bans prevent youth from accessing the standards of necessary medical care that are backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and other leading health authorities. Some of these bills go so far as to threaten parents with prosecution if they help their child receive the medical care recommended by the child’s doctor. Others would strip doctors of their licenses or even jail them for providing this care. When lawmakers prohibit medical care based on their beliefs, they risk the safety of others and undermine their religious freedom. No one should have authority to put their religious beliefs before the health and well-being of others, and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
Another issue that they’re looking at nationally is religious freedom restoration acts. It says Congress passed the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act RFRA in 1993, and 25 states have since passed their own version of this law. In our neck of the woods, indiana and Pennsylvania have a version. Ohio does not. Ironically, rfras require the government to meet a rigid legal task called strict scrutiny. When they take any action that burdens religious expression, they must demonstrate that the government interest is compelling and that the least restrictive means is used to achieve that interest. So just to take an issue, let’s say there’s another pandemic and the governor decides that he needs to close everything down. Well, under a religious freedom restoration act, a church wouldn’t necessarily be closed down. They’d have to do a strict scrutiny. There are not burdens the church people in practicing their religion and that would be over and above the health and well-being of their parishioners. It would be more important for their religious freedom to be able to go to church and we’ve heard a lot of that argument during the pandemic when churches were closed, when they tried to get. When the Ohio Supreme Court said that churches were the same as casinos when it came to public being open to the public during the pandemic.
And then in another part that they’re looking at American Atheists is looking at nationally is strict scrutiny provisions for parental rights. States with laws that undermine the rights of young people by providing special protection for quote parental rights unquote using a similar framework as the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, these laws subject any infringement on parental rights a broad and poorly defined concept to strict scrutiny analysis. In other words, whenever government protections for children conflict with the beliefs and actions of parents, the government must meet a rigid legal test or make a special exception for those parents. Now you may have noticed a little bit of irony in that a strict scrutiny provisions for parental rights doesn’t apply to Transcare for their kids, and it’s the same for Ohio. A lot of these people, a lot of these religious zealots that are going into school boards about parental rights for CRT and book banning. They don’t think that that applies to parents wanting to get medical care for their trans children. So that’s kind of ironic.
And then later on, on their website, american atheists, they they have an outlook for 2024 coming up, and so I just wanted to read a couple selections from from their analysis for 2024, their predictions for 2024. It says the last few years have been noteworthy in the number and scope of moral panics that have been promoted to so fear among the populace, populace ranging from critical race theory in schools to teachers quote making students trans, unquote, pornography in school libraries, immigrants giving fentanyl to children and a whole host of even more outlandish conspiracy theories. Moral panics occur when an imagined threat to society, and especially to children, as propped up as a sinister and existential danger. However, because of our increasingly targeted and insular media, these imaginary harms are given substance, validated and entrenched as a result of these media bubbles. Americans very much live in different worlds with vastly different facts and shared understandings based on their politics, and we saw a perfect example of this moral panic when it came to house bill 68 and banning trans gender affirmative care for kids. You know the, the Religious zealots such as Reverend Gary click was basically saying that that the sinister cabal of children’s medical Facilities were trying to entice kids to have Mutilated mutilation surgery is what they called it.
They call it mutilations, even though the the actual Facts are that surgeries, gender surgeries, gender changing surgeries, don’t don’t happen with people under the age of 18. They just don’t. That’s not. That’s not part of the medical care. But you know this is this leads into that moral panic.
American atheists continue. It says the legislative focus on parental rights is part of a broader effort to undermine secular public education. In 2023, states passed a wave of universal school voucher laws with unlimited Eligibility, with bills passing in Arkansas, florida, indiana, iowa, ohio, oklahoma and Utah. We’ve already were already seeing the impact of these terrible policies, as they have generated massive cost overruns and fraud in states like Florida and Arizona. These bills are part of a coordinated and well-funded national effort to undermine public education in favor of private religious education In states with pre-existing voucher programs are likely to be targets for similar legislation in 2024.
And in fact, if you Talk about the other part too, besides religious schools, if you talk about homeschooling, they’re trying to. I don’t know if they have or not, but they’re really trying to. I don’t know if they have or not, but there was a plan to give tax breaks to parents at homeschool and there’s no accountability for that. We had homeschoolers in upper Sundaske that Allegedly were teaching their kids Nazi propaganda and how to be Nazis, and the state board of education said well, there’s not much we can do about that, it’s not against the law. And so that’s what you have, and and and so I mean that’s been a conservative plan, especially conservative religious plan, for Decades to gut the public school system and give all that money to sectarian religious schools, private schools. And it’s come to fruition and no, there’s no accountability. And and no, no accountability across the board for the money or for the education that somebody’s receiving. And and the thing is that a lot of these Studies that have been done has shown that kids that get a private education are no better off than kids that go to a to a public school. And you have a lot of schools that are losing a lot of money because they’re, because at least, like in Ohio, the money follows the kid. And then the other part that I wanted to highlight too, from the state of the secular state report analysis or outlook for 2024, is one.
Especially noteworthy examples is the US Supreme Court’s new reliance on historical practices and understandings to define civil rights in areas ranging from abortion, access to gun safety and church state separation. As several district court judges have pointed out, they are not historians. This test makes it both difficult and expensive to bring cases to protect civil rights, and it allows hostile courts to cherry pick from history to arrive at desired outcomes, especially at a time when so many are turning to the courts to protect their basic civil rights, which are under attack by Christian nationalists and their lawmaker allies. These vague tests and clearly ideologically based bias courts create uncertainty and risk, and that’s precisely what we saw with the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v Wade. The main argument that the majority opinion made was that there was not a history of having access to abortions In the history, in all of history. They said that abortion was banned and so you do not have a right through the Constitution to have an abortion.
The other part that they mentioned was gun control or gun safety. One of the court cases had the argument that guns have never been banned in history until now, and so if the founding fathers didn’t do it, then how can they do it in 2023? And so you have groups of people going through old ordinances, town ordinances, to find gun bans, and there have been. Even a cursory understanding of history knows that there’s been gun bans in history. The one that I remember most is Wyatt. Earp was the sheriff or the marshal, and they had a sign up that people had to check their guns. They weren’t allowed to bring their guns into town. Then you had, in the late 60s, ronald Reagan, governor of California, signed a law that prohibited carrying rifles through town. So there’s been, historically there have been bans, but you have these courts, these conservative courts, cherry picking what history that they do or accept and, as they point out, it creates uncertainty and risk in trying to defend civil rights or protect people’s civil rights. So that’s an overview of the state of secular state report and it’s at statesatheousorg and I have the link up in the show notes.
But took a look at Ohio’s and this was probably done at the end of December, so House Bill 68 hasn’t been in law so it’s not marked on here. There’s some good things about Ohio, like a state establishment clause, a free exercise clause, a strong taxpayer standing. We have non-discrimination laws, religiously based non-discrimination laws for employment, housing and public accommodation. We do have religious exemptions to the non-discrimination law. We have mandatory reporting for clergy for child abuse and we have clergy privilege exceptions for child abuse, so that’s good. We do have property tax exemption and sales tax exemption for religious churches and religious groups, which can be bad. The other things that the good things that we have that well, we have homeschooling laws, have instructor qualifications and testing evaluation, but they don’t police the content and there’s religious exemptions to the homeschooling laws too. They do have here statutory abortion ban. That’s going to go away because of state issue one.
This only programs, but we don’t have comprehensive sex education. We don’t have a law protecting children from being married, from child marriage. They had a big kerfluffle Think it was in Tennessee when they tried to pass a law that prohibited marriage before, I think, for girls before 16 or something like that. People complain, especially religious people, because there’s some religious sex that are really supportive of child marriages and marrying off girls when they’re 10, 11, 12, 13 years old, and so they didn’t want to make them mad. Can you believe that they won’t allow trans kids to get medical care? But hey, if that girl’s 13 and her parents approve, she can get married, whether she wants to or not. It’s bizarre, but yeah. So any state that you want to check out is on that report. It’s statesatheistorg. I would advise you to check it out and let them know If you see anything you don’t understand. You can contact them and they’ll get some information to you.
34:45 – Voice Over (Announcement)
Thank you for listening. For more information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at glasscityhumanists.show Glass City Humanist is an outreach of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie SHoWLE can be reached at humanistswle.org Glass city humanist is hosted, written and produced by Douglas Berger and he’s solely responsible for the content. Our theme music is Glass City Jam, composed using the Amplify Studio. See you next time.
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Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley
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