Tuesday, November 29

11 quotes from the first hearing of HB 616 to ban the teaching of divisive concepts

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The first hearing of HB 616 — the bill that would ban the promotion and teaching of “divisive and inherently racist concepts” — was held on Tuesday in the State and Local Government Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives.

HB 616 quickly made national headlines in early April 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.”

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.

Tuesday’s hearing featured only testimony from the bill’s sponsors, Representatives Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), and a few questions from representatives on the committee.

We present to you 11 quotes from this relatively quick first hearing.

1. “What does this legislation do? Very simply it ensures that divisive and inherently racist concepts are not taught in schools.” -Rep. Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta). The word “divisive was used 30+ times. Never was it defined. 

2. “We want nothing more than to allow our children to be taught the facts and learn necessary information to prepare them for life.” -Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), about a bill that *literally* limits the facts that children are allowed to be taught. 

3. “This process is not one-sided; teachers will have the opportunity to defend themselves before a penalty, if any, is assessed.” -Rep. Schmidt, making it very clear that this HB 616 makes teachers into defendants as opposed to, say, educators.

4. “After some detailed research and after speaking to some professors, DEI is very similar to CRT. We don’t want to see the outcomes of DEI and CRT to our curriculum.” –Rep. Loychick, in response to a question Rep. Latyna M. Humphrey (D-Columbus) about why diversity and inclusion was being banned. 

5. “DEI helps folks understand the issues and things that students otherwise wouldn’t.” Rep. Latyna M. Humphrey (D-Columbus), presented here without rebuttal.

6. “Part of this bill gives the State Board of Education the authority to decide what is divisive or inherently racist.” -Rep. Schmidt, dodging questions from Rep. Michael Skindell (R-Lakewood) about the vagueness of the language.

7. “I’m an attorney. I practice law. There is a real ambiguity in this language.” -Rep. Skindell on the fact that this bill outlaws undefined concepts.

9. “You’re an invited guest. You would be able to talk about anything you would want to talk about.” -Rep. Schmidt to Rep. Tavia Golonski (D-Akron) about whether Rep. Galonski would still be allowed to appear in schools to talk about controversial legislation like HB 616.

10. “Nothing divisive or racially divisive should enter into the classroom.” -Rep. Schmidt, mere moments before she told Rep. Galonski that she could be in the classroom talking about controversial legislation like HB 616.

Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron)

11. “Well, I better clear my schedule.” -Rep. Galonski on her future plans to visit as many Ohio classrooms as possible. 🔥

Ignite Action:

  • CALL NOW: Call Chair Wiggam at (614) 466-1474 and Speaker Cupp at (614) 466-9624 to make your voice heard on HB 616. 

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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