COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio House Republicans have introduced a bill similar to a Florida law which restricts how teachers teach students about sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a measure that Democrats are blasting while Republicans are remaining largely silent on it.
What You Need To Know
- A bill was introduced in the Ohio General Assembly that is similar to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in Florida
- The legislation’s cosponsors did not respond to reporters’ questions on the bill
- The bill was blasted by Democrats and pro LGBTQ+ and teaching organizations
- The bill has not been sent to a committee yet and it is unclear whether the legislation will get serious consideration
House Republicans Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, and Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, introduced House Bill 616 on Monday.
The bill, which is similar to the so-called "Don't Say Gay" law in Florida, would not allow public and private school teachers in kindergarten through third grade to "teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity." It would also ban the same thing in regards to "divisive or inherently racist concepts."
Neither Loychik nor Schmidt returned calls or email requests for comment. Schmidt, however, was at the Statehouse Tuesday. She darted out of a committee room unrelated to the bill to try and evade reporters' questions.
"I've got to go to the Senate. Please don't harass me," she said frantically.
Reporters asked if she could walk and talk in order to explain the bill or why she introduced it. She responded, "No I can't. Please?"
Loychik was not at the Statehouse but tweeted, "Curriculum about gender identity and sexuality has no place in K-3 classrooms, period. That’s why I just introduced a bill to ban curriculum about sexuality and gender identity until 3rd grade in Ohio."
The bill allows fourth-12th graders to talk about these topics but, it states, "any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity" would have to be "age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."
"I think it's a definite travesty," said Densil Porteous, executive director of Stonewall Columbus, an LGBTQ+ community group.
Porteous, who is also a parent of a 5-year-old, said he will not be erased from his daughter's classroom, mind or memory.
"When my daughter goes to school and wants to present and talk about her two dads, her two parents who love her and care for her and have raised her since she was a child, that is diminishing of me as a person. And I've spent all of my life fighting to be seen," Porteous said.
The bill also brings back the idea of banning "Critical Race Theory" in schools, language that was previously removed from another bill Republicans introduced. The president of the state's largest teachers' union said this is a bad bill for both kids and teachers.
"This isn't what we need, especially when teachers also we're facing a shortage and we need to be creating conditions to support teachers so that we get good people staying in the profession and coming into our profession," said Scott DiMauro with the Ohio Education Association.
Ohio House Speaker Robert Cupp, R-Lima, did not have much to say when asked about the bill Tuesday because he said he only found out about it in the morning. Meanwhile, Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, called it a "disgusting bill that legitimizes bigotry."
House Bill 616 has yet to be referred to a committee.