At their next meeting, the State Board of Education (BOE) of Ohio will be considering a resolution that targets LGBTQ+ students and rejects Title IX language that would protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination.
The “Resolution to Support Parents, Schools, and Districts in Rejecting Harmful, Coercive, and Burdensome Gender Identity Policies” will be introduced at the September 20 meeting. The document is a wide-ranging attack on LGBTQ+ youth, including:
- An introduction that rejects the very existence of trans identity
- An endorsement of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit against the Biden administration to allow LGBTQ+ discrimination.
- An instruction to have the Superintendent of Public Instruction issue a letter to every school district in Ohio to ignore the application of Title IX protections to LGBTQ+ students.
- A call on the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation requiring all teachers and school staff out trans youth to their parents.
- A call on the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation banning trans female youth from participating in sports.
- A general rejection of “harmful, coercive, and burdensome gender identity policies, procedures, and regulations.”
The resolution is being introduced by State BOE member Brendan Shea of London Ohio. Shea was elected to a 4-year-term in November 2020. According to his bio, Shea is home-schooling his children, serves as founder and president of Madison County Right to Life, and enjoys Bible study in his free time.
The Buckeye Flame reached out to Shea for comment but has not yet received a response.
Fellow State BOE member Michelle Newman told The Buckeye Flame that her “stomach flipped” when she saw this resolution and that this resolution does not represent a priority in Ohio’s educational goals:
“We need to work on literacy. We need to make sure 3rd graders are meeting their 3rd grade reading guarantees. We need to make sure our kids are graduating high school and moving on to technical education to great jobs. We need to be working on STEM access and helping raise the standards of our technology curriculum. There are one million more important things than this resolution.”
Newman further highlighted that Shea “does not have any connection with public education” and that external forces influenced the crafting of this resolution.
“The State Board of Education has not been immune to national polarization and that’s exactly what this is,” Newman said. “This resolution is coming in to make a political statement. It is not coming in to move Ohio forward.”
LGBTQ+ and education advocates from all over Ohio condemned the resolution.
“The State Board of Education must stop this toxic resolution in its tracks,” said Cynthia Peeples, founding director of Honesty for Ohio Education. “It builds on a foundation of falsehoods and attacks that certain Ohio policymakers have copied from divisive, extremist national groups with no concern for the wellbeing of Ohio’s young people. It goes against the State Board’s core mission to support public education for all Ohio students, and breeds a culture of lawlessness by directing local school leaders to break the law.”
“Educators know that our students don’t thrive when they’re not safe, healthy, and treated with respect,” said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “We strongly oppose this unnecessary and divisive attempt to roll back Title IX protections and place a target on the backs of some students. Our schools should be a welcoming place for all students, no matter what they look like, where they come from, or how they identify. “
“This resolution is nothing but untruths, cruel language, and misinformation about what it means to be transgender or non-binary,” said Maria Bruno, policy director at Equality Ohio. “It is meant to sway people who may not understand our community and create more fear around LGBTQ+ people.
“Resolution and actions like this are a violation of our students basic human rights and go the against the ‘whole child’ model that Ohio schools utilize to ensure all students have access to high quality education,” said Sheena Barnes, a member of the the Toledo Public School Board and a board member of The Buckeye Flame.
The State Board of Education is made up of 19 members – 11 who are elected and eight who are appointed by the governor. The chairs of the education committees of the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate serve as non-voting ex officio members. Both of those chairs are Republicans.
When introduced at the September 20 meeting, the resolution could be assigned to a committee for review, be delayed for a vote until their October meeting, or be voted on immediately as an emergency declaration.
- Honesty for Ohio Education provides a step-by-step guide here to prepare and submit comments to the BOE, which they encourage concerned Ohioans to do straightaway before the September 20 meeting.
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