Ohio GOP lawmakers push sexual orientation discussion ban

April 5, 2022 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio educators would be banned from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, under newly introduced Republican legislation that mirrors a recently passed Florida law dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics.

The Ohio legislation also requires that teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity must be age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for children in fourth through twelfth grade, according to the bill introduced Monday by GOP Reps. Jean Schmidt and Mike Loychik.

“Children deserve a quality education that is fair, unbiased and age appropriate,” Loychik, a northeastern Ohio Republican, said in a statement.

The proposal would also prohibit the teaching of “divisive or inherently racist concepts” including the academic theory known as critical race theory. That prohibition is similar to other bills pending in the Ohio Legislature that ban schools from requiring or compelling Ohio teachers to affirm a belief in the systemic nature of racism or “the multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities.”

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School districts who violate the ban could lose funding, according to the sponsors.

It’s unclear if or when the bill might become law. Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, said it was too early to comment on the legislation. Last year, the governor questioned the need for a GOP proposal to ban transgender girls from athletic competition in Ohio.

House Democrats called the new legislation an infringement on the rights of the LGBTQ community.

“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is outright dangerous and sets a precedent of censorship and misinformation in Ohio,” said Democratic Rep. Mike Skindell.

The two anti-critical race theory bills introduced in May and pending before the House State and Local Government Committee are also similar to legislation introduced nationwide by GOP lawmakers.

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The bill with the most traction of that pair now appears dead after its sponsor, GOP Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur, told WEWS-TV last month, referring to events like the Holocaust, that, “You should talk about these atrocities that have happened in history, but you also do have an obligation to point out the value that each individual brings to the table.”

In response, Republican House Speaker Bob Cupp called Arthur’s comments inappropriate and uninformed.

Opponents of those bills, including the Ohio Education Association teachers’ union, call them an attempt to whitewash history.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that those institutions maintain the dominance of white people.