A new Ohio education bill is gaining national attention for its similar text to that of the controversial laws recently passed in Florida.
When most people think of public education in the news right now, their minds instinctively go to The Sunshine State. Governor Ron DeSantis and his Republican constituents are the talks of the nation following the approval of a controversial education bill recently passed. And while the country seems torn on the issue within the new Florida law, a newly proposed Ohio education bill looks to mirror Florida’s public school transformation.
In Florida, the legislation was introduced by Republicans as the Parental Rights in Education bill. To its opposers, it was simply coined the Don’t Say Gay Bill. Now, liberals have also deemed the newly assembled Ohio education House Bill 616 as another Don’t Say Gay legislation.
The bill was introduced on April 4th by two Republican Ohio state Reps Mike Loychic and Jean Schmidt. The language inside the bill reads similar to that of Florida’s new law. The Ohio education bill looks to ban any teachings on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through the third grade. Regarding students from grades 4 through 12, gender identity discussions are also barred unless “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate”.
But unlike Florida’s controversial legislation, the Ohio education bill goes further, blanketing in a ban on inherently racist concepts, often called divisive concepts, as well. Under this section, the bill seeks to ban any teachings of critical race theory, intersectional theory, the 1619 project, diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes, inherited racial guilt, and “any other concept that the state board of education defines as divisive or inherently racist.” Florida did also include new legislation to cover this matter as well, but they pierced that legislation into a separate bill known as the Stop Woke Act.
As usual, the new Ohio education bill was met with plenty of pushback. The Ohio Education Association castigated the bill and vowed to continue its fight to ensure students have freedom in schools. The Columbus Education Association, one of the state’s largest teacher unions also slammed the proposal calling it an attack on their students. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther was also quick to draw attention to the legislation. He released a statement in regards to the bill this Tuesday calling it “bigotry in one of its ugliest forms.”
Backer of the Ohio education bill and similar ones introduced all around the country say it’s not a target against LGBTQ communities, but instead, a means to get more transparency and parental rights back into public education. Schmidt, one of House Bill 616’s sponsors, motioned this in a statement via The Columbus Dispatch. Seeing things quite the opposite, she believes the bill will rid schools of “political activism” and allow parents to have a bigger say and understanding of what their children learn inside the classrooms. As the bill currently reads, parents would be able to file a complaint against a teacher, school, or district superintendent for violating the restrictions mentioned under the bill. The penalties could range from license removals and the withholding of state funds to schools.
Now that the storm is passing and news trends are gradually moving away from the spotlight on Florida and Disney, Ohio looks to be the center of attention for a while. Since the Ohio education bill was just proposed this week, it still has a long road ahead before it can become a law. After passing committee approval, the legislation needs to be majority voted Ohio is a red state with majority control, and the likelihood that the legislation passes is high.