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Ohio GOP lawmakers push ban on discussion of sexual identity in schools

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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.

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.”

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. Opponents including the Ohio Education Association teachers’ union call those bills 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.