UPDATE: HB 616 moves forward as the proposed ban on curriculum is assigned to a committee

The bill contains specific bans on acknowledging or discussing race, intersectionality, and LGBTQ+ identity. 

HB 616 — the bill that would ban the promotion and teaching of “divisive and inherently racist concepts” — was assigned Tuesday to the State and Local Government Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives.

The assignment to a committee is the first step forward for the bill since it was introduced on April 4.

HB 616 quickly made national headlines with its similarity to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that was signed into law by Florida’s Governor DeSantis on March 28.

Ohio’s bill goes further than its Florida counterpart, incorporating in a ban on school districts from selecting “any textbook, instructional material, or academic curriculum that promotes any divisive or inherently racist concepts” including:

  • Critical race theory
  • Intersectional theory
  • The 1619 project
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes
  • Inherited racial guilt
  • Any other concept that the state board of education defines as divisive or inherently racist

Additionally, the bill would prevent schools from offering “training or professional development to employees that promote or endorse divisive or inherently racist concepts.”

The bill is sponsored by Representatives Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland).

Regarding LGBTQ+ identity, the bill outlines the following bans:

  • With respect to a student in any of grades kindergarten through three, schools may not teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • With respect to a student in any of grades four through twelve, schools may not teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity in any manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Consequences for violating these statutes include an official licensure admonishment, licensure suspension, licensure revocation, and the withholding of funds to that school.

Less than 24 hours after HB 616, reactions from all across the state were swift and condemning.

“This entire thing is unequivocally unacceptable,” said Kaleidoscope Youth Center in a statement. “HB 616 would specifically ban acknowledging or discussing LGBTQ+ identities in school, among other curriculum bans. Appropriate K-5 education includes teaching about respect, diversity, and family structures – that includes #LGBTQ+ families and people. We urge you to contact your reps and tell them you DO NOT support HB616. We will amplify more action steps as they become available.”

Now that the bill has been assigned to the State and Local Government Committee, next steps would include the scheduling of proponent and opponent testimony.  

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