Apr 6, 2022 - Politics

GOP lawmakers introduce "Don't Say Gay" bill in Ohio

Photos of Ohio lawmakers Mike Loychik and Jean Schmidt.

Two Ohio Republicans want to outlaw teaching a variety of "divisive" subjects in public schools, including sexual orientation, gender identity and critical race theory.

Why it matters: The proposal mirrors a controversial law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week referred to by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Driving the news: Ohio Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) and Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) introduced House Bill 616 Monday.

Details: HB 616 would prohibit kindergarten through third grade classrooms from teaching, using, or referencing "sexual orientation or gender identity."

  • Classrooms with older students could not feature those topics in a way that is "not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate."

Separately, the bill would prohibit school districts from teaching from "any textbook, instructional material, or academic curriculum that promotes any divisive or inherently racist concept."

  • This includes any teaching of critical race theory, the New York Times' 1619 Project and "diversity, equity and inclusion learning outcomes."

The big picture: More than a dozen states are considering their own laws banning classroom instruction of LGBTQ+ topics, per The Hill.

What they're saying: “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 other side: The state's largest teachers union was quick to condemn the bill as potentially having a "chilling effect" on educators' work.

  • "You're shutting down honest education," Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, told Axios. "You really shut down free thinking and academic freedom and an opportunity for students to fully learn and thrive in our schools."

What's next: So far, no other lawmakers have co-sponsored HB 616 and it awaits a committee assignment.

  • Leadership will decide if the bill gets a chance to progress through the legislature.

Be smart: This is the latest in a number of school-related bills pushed by Ohio Republicans this term.

  • Schmidt and Loychik previously teamed up on legislation to ban student mask mandates and both supported a ban on trans athletes in high school sports.
  • Loychik authored another bill this term to make school board elections partisan and institute term limits for board members.

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