Friday, September 30

After public voices mass opposition, State Board of Education of Ohio punts anti-LGBTQ+ resolution to October

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On Tuesday, the State Board of Education (BOE) of Ohio considered 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” has been widely described as a wide-ranging attack on LGBTQ+ youth, including 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.

The resolution was authored by State BOE member Brendan Shea of London Ohio. who shares in his bio that he is home-schooling his children, serves as founder and president of Madison County Right to Life, and enjoys Bible study in his free time.

Chalkings from protestors outside the BOE meeting

Passionate Public Participation

Before the resolution was introduced, more than 60 Ohioans participated in the public participation portion of the agenda to offer their thoughts on the resolution.

“Many of us traveled hours to show unconditional love and support for our LGBTQ+ students and refute the harmful stereotypes and falsehoods peddled in Shea’s resolution,” said Cynthia Peeples, founding director of Honesty for Ohio Education.

Each individual was given 3-minutes each to speak, with the vast majority of the speakers—over 50—arguing passionately against the resolution.

Those speakers included parents of LGBTQ+ individuals, legal experts, educators, and trans Ohioans. A few of the statements speaking against the resolution:

“The fact that the lies and statements in this resolution are coming from a government body is absolutely unconscionable. My daughter has spent her entire high school career fighting for her right to exist. She hasn’t had the luxury of only worrying about grades, getting into college, and navigating the social scene. She and other brave kids are in a battle with adults who should know better and have significantly more pressing issues to tackle. No person should ever have to engage in such a fight, especially kids.” -Minna Zilch

“The Ohio where I grew up and that I have always been so proud to call my home state would not tell Walnut Hills to go out of its way to make my daughter feel excluded and different. This proposed resolution does nothing but sow seeds of discord and division. It asks our legislature to pass unnecessary laws that would force teachers to out my daughter’s friends to their parents without the child’s consent. Sadly, this can be dangerous. For some children, their school is a place of safety and security, and their home is not.” -Nick Zingarelli

“In no uncertain terms, this proposed resolution is offensive, inappropriate, irresponsible, and dangerous. At a time when transgender people, particularly youth, are targets of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and violence, our leadership should be making it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated… but instead, the Ohio State Board of Education has decided to entertain this resolution, which seeks to allow Ohio schools to violate federal law and encourages state actors to unlawfully target and mistreat gender-variant students.” -James Knapp of TransOhio

Less than 10 of the speakers provided statements in support of the resolution. Those speakers included the wife of a teacher descrying critical race theory, a doctor who had his medical license revoked inaccurately defining gender, and a pastor who read passages from Genesis.

Resolution is introduced

Many hours later, the resolution was finally introduced by Shea.

In his remarks, Shea tried to underscore his point by referencing schools who are providing litter boxes for students who identify as cats. Though conservative lawmakers have continued to reference that story to make a point about not protecting trans students, the litter box tale has been repeatedly debunked.

BOE member Brendan Shea

Shea invoked the word “groomers”—a word widely used by conservatives to invoke irrational fear about LGBTQ+ individuals being predators—and acknowledged that forcing school staff to out LGBTQ+ students to parents might indeed result in an uptick of youth attempting to harm themselves. But he described that outcome as a lesser concern.

“Which would be the greater crime?” Shea asked, “The child who harms himself because his parents were informed, or the child who harmed himself all while systematically deprived by the state of a parent’s love in this specific area at the time he needed it most?”

Shea also said that “time was of the essence,” seemingly in connection to the upcoming elections.

Confusion at the meeting ensued when President Charlotte McGuire did not allow BOE members to speak in response to Shea’s resolution, despite some member urging her to let them refute Shea’s points.

McGuire asked board members to refrain from debating or commenting on the resolution until they meet again on October 11-12 to hear more testimony and potentially vote on the resolution.

Meanwhile, outside the meeting…

As the meeting progressed, dozens of individuals protested the resolution outside. They carried placards, chalked the sidewalks in support of LGBTQ+ youth, and chanted their dissent against Shea’s language.

Signs held by protestors on 9/20/22.

As the resolution will be heard again at the BOE’s October meeting, advocates say the work is far from over.

“It was an honor bearing witness to the painful and triumphant stories of so many trans youth and the beautiful families who love them,”  said Peeples. “This resolution will be on the October agenda for consideration… we have much work ahead to defeat this harm!” 🔥
Ignite Action:
  • Concerned Ohioans are urged to contact their State Board of Education member to voice their feelings on the resolution. BOE member directory can be found here

About Author

The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

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