We Oppose HB 183: The Bathroom Ban For Trans People

President Douglas Berger submitted written testimony to the Ohio House Higher Education Committee that is considering House Bill 183 that would prohibit transgender kids and adults from using the public bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Two people on the committee are from the NW Ohio area. Rep. Derek Merrin (R-42) and Rep. Josh Williams (R-41).

The hearing for opposition testimony is Wednesday October 11th. Here is the text of his testimony as submitted:


Chair Rep. Young, Vice Chair Rep. Manning, and Ranking Member Rep. Miller, my name is Douglas Berger and I am President of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, based in Toledo.

I am writing today to express our group’s opposition to House Bill 183 that would prohibit transgender kids and adults from using the public bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

We oppose this discriminatory bill since it reminds us of the dark days of Jim Crow when bathrooms and even drinking fountains were segregated by race and this bill is based on the same kind of false narrative and flimsy evidence that those Jim Crow laws were based on.

We are also tired of members of this legislature passing off irrational religious bigotry as public policy and law. When will your need to impose your religion on others stop?

HB 183 has no factual basis and no data to justify a ban is needed. Most anecdotal stories are made up. The numbers of teachers and people of faith who have been arrested and charged for abusing children far out distance any reported crime due to Trans people using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. I am more fearful of a child being alone with a priest or minister than using a bathroom with a Trans person.

Representative Lear and Bird also failed to note which religious conservative lobby group they copied and pasted this ridiculous proposal from. There is a reason these proposals all look alike.

We can also promise that the people who introduced this bill and at least three members of this committee have never met a Trans kid and has never talked to the Trans community but they seem to want to discriminate against Trans people anyway. I’m sure it is easier to discriminate when you never talk to them.

Our members would also like to know who will enforce this ban and how will it be enforced. Will birth certificates be required to be shown or will a school official be designated as a genital checker? Will you have a parent sign a form so their child can have a genital check? If there is no enforcement mechanism then this proposal is just for show. In fact it would be used to out Trans kids and bully them.

Adding on an unfunded mandate on public schools and colleges that you barely help fund is also something to consider.

In a recent TV interview, a member of this committee said that educational policy should only go toward the academic progress of students and we shouldn’t be introducing social issues into the classroom. How does HB 183 advance academic progress? It doesn’t but it sure introduces social issues into the classroom. How will this bill improve the dismal school ranking the state has received recently.

Why don’t Trans kids deserve to be protected too?

We ask you to vote no on HB 183.

SHoWLE Disappointed By 303 Creative Court Decision

Toledo, July 1, 2023 – The Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie are very disappointed in the ruling on June 30 by the US Supreme Court in the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case. It is wrong that religious beliefs now trump all other rights to full public business accommodations and allow discrimination of people in a protected class.

The court said that requiring the graphic designer to make wedding websites for same-sex couples was an unconstitutional violation of her first amendment rights because the creation would be seen as an endorsement of something her religious beliefs prohibit.

We don’t believe requiring business owners not to discriminate against customers in protected classes makes the person or business endorse something against their religious beliefs. At the end of the day they can still not approve of same-sex marriages. If a business can’t bring itself to serve customers from the protected classes then they need not be a public business.

We are also concerned about the unprecedented protection the court granted to a religious person. They ruled on a case that didn’t include any actual harm. The plaintiff wasn’t creating wedding websites when she filed the lawsuit and there is some question that the LGBT customer written about in her case was made up. Secular people who claim their religious freedom was violated, like for example challenging 10 Commandment statues on court house lawns, are dismissed because the mere presence of the religious item or text isn’t an actual harm according to federal courts.

The plaintiff agreed in court that she would sell her services to LGBTQ people, just not wedding website designs. So her religious beliefs are not absolute. How does making a sign for a gay man not also seem to endorse his sexual orientation?

The decision was capricious and arbitrary and gave special rights to religious people that are not allowed by anyone else. The Christian Nationalists have been bent on subverting decades of church and state legal decisions.

The US Supreme Court set back religious freedom for many years.


For further information on this decision see: Supreme Court rules website designer can decline to create same-sex wedding websites

About Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie

The mission of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie is to provide a supportive local community for humanists and other nontheists, while promoting an ethical, reasonable, and secular approach to life through education, community service, outreach, activism, and social events.

We envision a Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan where secular people are respected and integrated in broader society, live values of reason and compassion, and enjoy a friendly humanist community.

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PDF of Statement Available Here

Toledo Blade Underplayed Bigotry Toward The Trans Community

SHoWLE President Douglas Berger had a letter to the editor published in the Toledo Blade on April 20, 2023, responding to a previous editorial that seemed sympathetic to a woman who gave a speech against Trans women at the University of Toledo. The editorial downplayed the bigoted framing and rehash of anti-Trans tropes relating to Trans women participating in women’s sports. The editorial complained about Trans rights supporters protesting Riley Gaines’ speech but didn’t point out the false narrative that Gaines used in her speech and the fact that it was sponsored by the right-wing Christian Nationalist group Turning Point USA.

Douglas was also disappointed that even though his letter was published, the heart of it was cut out by the Blade and made it seem, again, that the issue was one of difference of opinion and not one of a battle to protect the rights of a marginalized group. SHoWLE doesn’t believe that human rights should be put up for a popular vote or be debated like what ice cream flavor you like.

Below is the full text of the letter Douglas submitted followed by images of the Blade editorial in question and the printed letter.

I sat down to read the Blade and saw yet another editorial (“Editorial: Let Riley tell her story” published 4/22) claiming that someone with bigoted ideas is being hurt because other people have called them out on their bigotry. Make no mistake, Riley Gaines told her story framed in bigotry against Trans women all because a Trans woman won ONE event at the NCAA tournament.

Gaines should know that more goes into performing sports than just body parts and what sex one is but we live in a society that seems to accept the status quo for longer than we need. Take basketball. When women were first allowed to play basketball, they were only allowed to play half court because men assumed that women didn’t have the stamina to run up and down a full court. They also had to play in skirts because it was un-ladylike to wear shorts in public.

Does Gaines feel the four other women that beat her in the 200 freestyle were actually “intact males” and why didn’t Lia Thomas win that race if she won the 500 freestyle? I thought Trans women had an unfair advantage?

The science on the issue isn’t clear yet but unlike Gaines’ anecdotal “evidence”, the NCAA has had specific rules to include Trans athletes for at least 10 years now. One would think the flood gates would be open and there would be only Trans women winning everything – obviously that didn’t happen. A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance.

It is also telling that Gaines’ talk was sponsored by the Christian Nationalist group Turning Point USA, whose founder and President Charlie Kirk, on a podcast in 2022, said that the Transgender community was a “social contagion” and that this “public mania” would, in 20 years, be likened to “the modern-day equivalent of lobotomies in the 1920s and 1930s”.

Riley Gaines (like Charlie Kirk) used bigotry to tell her story, the content of which was underplayed in the editorial. As we move forward and the people who support all humans as having basic dignity and worth become the majority only then will we be actually united as people.

SHoWLE Opposes Senate Bill 49: The Religious Expression Days “R.E.D.” Act.

This session, the Ohio Senate introduced Senate Bill 49 also known as The Religious Expression Days “R.E.D.” Act. If passed it would give religious students in public schools three days off each year for religious reasons. SHoWLE opposes this bill for the main reason is it gives special privileges to religious students. We also don’t believe a law is needed since many school districts currently make accommodations for religious observances.

SHoWLE President Douglas Berger submitted written testimony to the Ohio Senate Education committee. Here is the text of his remarks:

Continue reading “SHoWLE Opposes Senate Bill 49: The Religious Expression Days “R.E.D.” Act.”

Statement Concerning the Leaked SCOTUS Abortion Case Decision

Our right to privacy is now in danger

Like many in this country the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie were heartbroken by the content of the Dobbs decision of the US Supreme Court when it was leaked in May. It completely guts a woman’s right to abortion under 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision.

We knew this was a possibility from the decades long effort by religious zealots to overturn the case and send us back to the time of secret back-alley abortions that led to unnecessary deaths.

To be truthful, abortions will still happen, but the abortions will be less safe. Those who are caught in poverty will be worse off and women becoming pregnant due to a rape or incest will have no other options to terminate their pregnancy.

The decision also hints at future attacks on same sex marriage, sodomy, and contraception. Religious zealots want to stomp all of that out and people like Justice Alito, Thomas, and the other conservatives on the court are more than happy to help.

Religious conservatives believe wearing masks and not being allowed to pray in a church during a pandemic is a severe violation of their religious freedom, yet they don’t think twice in using their religion to justify taking fundamental rights from all of us. With this decision, our right to privacy is in danger.

SHoWLE strongly condemns the Dobbs decision. We will never stop supporting a woman’s right to reproductive choice and everyone’s right to privacy.

We also repeat our intention not to work with ANY group that doesn’t support a woman’s right to make her own health care choices. We also will refuse to work with groups who don’t support a right to privacy.

We know it is a big ask to boycott Ohio, which is poised to end legal abortion, but if a business isn’t able to leave or refuse to do business in states that ban abortion, we at least ask those businesses to strongly express their support for a woman’s right to choose and offer to help employees obtain abortions in states where it will be legal.

Besides contacting your elected representatives and supporting any protests against taking the right to choose from women, we also ask that you donate to local abortion groups who help those with less resources to get the care they need.

The Agnes Reynolds Jackson Fund (focuses on NW Ohio and Toledo)

Women Have Options

Preterm

Midwest Access Coalition

Pro-Choice Ohio

National Network of Abortion Funds


Updated on 06/24/2022 when the decision was officially handed down

The vote to overturn Roe was 5-4. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito’s opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts did not join the opinion. He agreed with the majority that the Mississippi abortion restriction at issue in the case should be upheld, but in a separate opinion, he argued that the court should not have overturned Roe.

The court’s three liberals, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, filed a joint dissent.

Supreme Court overturns constitutional right to abortion

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Berger Spoke At Lights4Liberty Vigil

On Friday evening, July 12th, at Levis Square in downtown Toledo, the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie (SHoWLE) co-sponsored the Lights For Liberty vigil to End Human Concentration Camps.

Lights for Liberty partnered with international, national, regional and local communities and organizations who believe that human rights are fundamental rights, are not negotiable, and are willing to protect them.

President Douglas Berger was one of several speakers, at the event in Levis square, who highlighted the human rights issue with the immigration detention camps setup around the country.

Continue reading “Berger Spoke At Lights4Liberty Vigil”

Toledo Humanists Disappointed Gary Johnson Refused To Vote On Six-Week Ban Resolution

Toledo Member of Council at Large Gary Johnson (D)

Toledo City Council passed a resolution on June 26th that condemned passage of the six-week abortion ban by the state legislature back in April. The Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie support the passage of the resolution. The issue we have was the refusal of Council member Gary Johnson to vote. He fled the council chambers so he didn’t have to vote on the resolution.

Continue reading “Toledo Humanists Disappointed Gary Johnson Refused To Vote On Six-Week Ban Resolution”