Editor’s Note: The video above is previous coverage on this story.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Ohio House Bill 616 hasn’t even gone up for a committee vote, but many people are wondering what the bill would do if it became law.
It’s drawn comparisons to a law recently passed in Florida called, “Parental Rights in Education,” which opponents refer to as “Don’t Say Gay.”
We’re breaking down what HB 616 actually says and what impact it could have on education for Ohio’s students.
There are two big components of the proposed law – prohibiting LGBTQ+ discussion in schools as well as certain conversations about race.
What would HB 616 do?
Kindergarten through third grade:
With respect to a student in any of grades kindergarten through three, teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity.
For kids grades 4-12:
With respect to a student in any of grades four through twelve, teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity in any manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.
The bill also addresses critical race theory and how it should be taught in the classroom:
The school district board shall not select any textbook, instructional material, or academic curriculum that promotes any divisive or inherently racist concept…(a) Critical race theory; (b) Intersectional theory; (c) The 1619 project; (d) Diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes; (e) Inherited racial guilt; (f) Any other concept that the state board of education defines as divisive or inherently racist
The bill’s summary notes the purpose is to stop “the promotion and teaching of divisive or inherently racist concepts in public schools.”
Critical race theory is an academic area of study that examines the role of race and the founding of the United States.
It also directs the state education department to withhold funding from a district with any offenses.
Florida passed a law banning critical race theory in January of 2022.
The state also passed the parental rights bill last week.
The measure was introduced in Ohio by State Representatives Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) Monday.
“Parents deserve and should be provided a say in what is taught to their children in schools. The intent of this bill is to provide them with the tools to be able to see what their child is being taught,” Rep. Loychik said in a press release.
The Ohio Education Association disagrees.
OEA released a statement on Tuesday, saying in part:
“These politicians are continuing to use race and sexual orientation as wedge issues to score cheap political points, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Rather than persisting with these disingenuous attacks on educators and public schools, we need pro-public education policies that enable students to think critically about the world around them and empower them to be proud of who they are, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they express their gender identities, or who they – or their parents – love.”
Where does Governor Mike DeWine stand on the bill?
FOX 8 reached out to his office.
“We will need to review this just-introduced legislation, so it is premature to comment at this time,” spokesperson Dan Tierney said.
Read the proposed bill in its entirety here.