Proposed Ohio bill parallels portion of controversial Florida bill some dub the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

COLUMBUS — A newly proposed bill in the Ohio House has similar language to a portion of the recently passed Florida ‘Parental Rights in Education’ law, which has been the center of controversy across the country and prompted opponents to dub it the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

>> EXPLAINER: What is law critics have dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’?

Ohio State Representatives Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) introduced House Bill 616 on Monday, which would prohibit instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in some elementary school grade levels.

House Bill 616 would amend the Ohio Revised Code to add the following language to the law if passed:

“No school district, community school, STEM school, nonpublic school that enrolls students who are participating in a state scholarship program, or any employee or other third party representing a school district or school shall do either of the following:

(a) 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;

(b) 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.”

>> READ THE COMPLETE PROPOSED BILL

“Children deserve a quality education that is fair, unbiased and age appropriate,” Loychik said in a statement. “This legislation promotes free and fair discussion.”

The Ohio Education Association condemned the proposed legislation calling it “reprehensible on every level.”

“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,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “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.”

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation late last month that had language not unlike that proposed by Loychik and Schmidt.

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Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law mandates “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

>> READ THE FULL FLORIDA ‘PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION’ LAW

The proposed Ohio bill also would also prohibit some school districts to teach any of the following concepts bill writers define as “divisive or inherently racist concepts”:

  • Critical race theory
  • Intersectional theory
  • The 1619 Project
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes
  • Inherited racial guilt
  • Any other concept that the state board of education defines as divisive or inherently racist, in accordance with rule in the revised code

Currently, House Bill 616 has not been recommended to committee, which would be the next step to happen if the bill is to move forward in the Ohio General Assembly.