COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Two Ohio House Republicans introduced a bill Monday that would ban classroom instruction on gender identity, sexual orientation and critical race theory for certain grades.
Rep. Mike Loychik of Trumbull County and Jean Schmidt of the Cincinnati area are sponsoring the bill.
It has similar themes to a bill passed in Florida critics called “Don’t Say Gay.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed “Parental Rights in Education” into law last week.
The Ohio bill would prohibit teachers from using instructional materials that discuss gender identity or sexual orientation from kindergarten to 3rd grade.
For grades 4th through 12th, the bill says a teacher can use “developmentally appropriate” content for students.
The bill would also ban the teaching of critical race theory or what the bill calls “inherently racist” concepts to students.
Loychik and Schmidt released the following statement:
“The classroom is a place that seeks answers for our children without political activism. 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.”
Critical race theory is part of a scholarly movement that looks at U.S. history and modern society through a focus on the legacy of slavery, racism and discrimination.
The following would also be banned:
- Intersectional theory
- The 1619 Project
- Diversity, equity and inclusion learning outcomes
- Inherited racial guilt
If passed, a teacher or school administrator who was found to have violated the measure could have their license suspended.
It also directs the state education department to withhold funding from a district with any offenses.
The Ohio Education Association has strong feelings of opposition toward House Bill 616, calling it “an attempt to double-down on the worst parts of Ohio House Bill 327, the anti-freedom ‘divisive concepts bill,’ by adding the worst parts of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into the new proposed language.”
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.”
House Bill 616 represents yet another example of how a national network of extremists is seeking to hijack the education conversation in our state to control a political narrative and distract Ohioans from the real issues facing our public schools. The architects of this bill, who have decided to copy and paste some of the most damaging parts of Florida’s ultra-divisive legislation, are targeting some of Ohio’s most vulnerable students and families and setting Ohio up for a Florida-like showdown with the businesses our state leaders have been working so hard to attract.
Why would Ohio want to follow in Florida’s footsteps after it forced a showdown with Disney, one of the state’s biggest employers? HB 616 is exactly the kind of legislation that could send Intel and other major employers running, hurting our students’ future job prospects for decades to come.”
Read the proposed bill in its entirety here.