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HB616: Ohio's "Don't Say Gay/Don't Mention Race" Bill

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Ohio House Bill 616, introduced by two Republican state lawmakers, would mandate controversial changes to portions of the state’s Revised Code that sets standards for public schools.

The bill is similar to Florida’s recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-3. That bill was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in March.

Ohio’s version of the bill would also make any discussions of “sexual orientation or gender identity” illegal in the state’s K-3 public classrooms. Teachers who disobey the bill would be subject to having their teaching licenses revoked, among other punishments.

The proposed Ohio bill also goes farther and clamps down on discussions of race in the state’s public schools. HB616 would prohibit the teaching of theories used to discern the impact of racism in American history, including “critical race theory, intersectional theory, The 1619 Project, diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes, inherited racial guilt” and any concept that the State Board of Education “defines as divisive or inherently racist.” Teachers who use these tools to discuss racism in U.S. history or other subjects with their students would be subject to punishment.

On June 1, the Columbus Metropolitan Club will spotlight the controversy surrounding HB616 with speakers from both sides of the issue. The bill’s two sponsors, State Representatives Jean Schmidt and Mike Loychik, have also been invited to join the panel but have not responded as of this writing.

Featuring Scott DiMauro, President, The Ohio Education Association, Densil Porteous, Executive Director, Stonewall Columbus, Maria Bruno, Public Policy Director, Equality Ohio, Troy McIntosh, Executive Director, Center For Christian Virtue, Ohio Christian Education Network, and Bruce Hooley, host, The Bruce Hooley Show, with host Anna Staver, State House Reporter, The Columbus Dispatch/USA Today Gannett Ohio Bureau.