Two Ohio Republican representatives introduced a bill this week that would effectively prohibit the “promotion and teaching of divisive or inherently racist concepts in public schools.” On Monday, Representatives Mike Loychik and Jean Schmidt put forward HB 616 in the State House. The bill, much like Florida’s own HB 1557, restricts the provision of textbooks and curriculum containing racist concepts and ensures also that children in kindergarten through third grade are not exposed to sexual orientation and gender identity through formal education.
Representative Schmidt said of the bill, “The classroom is a place that seeks answers for our children without political activism. Parents deserve and should be provided a say in what is taught to their children in schools.” She referred to the bill’s intent to provide parents “with the tools to be able to see what their child is being taught.”
The bill relegates authority to individual school boards to oversee the selection of textbooks, instructional materials, and curriculum in compliance with section 3313.6029 of the Revised Code, as laid forth in the text of the bill. Those “divisive and inherently racist concepts” included in the section are critical race theory, intersectional theory, the 1619 project, learning outcomes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and inherited racial guilt. The bill additionally mandates that schools may not “teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity” in a means that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for children in lower grade levels.
Representative Loychik said, “Curriculum about gender and sexuality has no place in K-3 classrooms, period.” HB 616, unsurprisingly, is not without its critics. State and national news outlets already dubbed Ohio’s newly introduced bill as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” In response, Loychik tweeted, “Why are Democrats and the media upset about a bill that prevents curriculum about sex and gender identity from being taught to 6 year olds? Help me understand.”
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis drew stiff pushback from opponents this month and last for his support and signature on the “Parental Rights in Education.” The bill likewise protects children from kindergarten to third grade from exposure to gender ideologies in schools, as well as prevents schools from hiding information about its students from parents.