DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Ohio State Representatives Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) introduced a controversial education bill on Monday. Critics are dubbing it the Ohio ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill because parts of the legislation are similar to a bill that was recently passed in Florida.
House Bill 616 would prohibit teachers from imposing curriculum that is considered divisive or inherently racist. It would also prohibit curriculum on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade.
Representatives Loychik and Schmidt released a statement Tuesday defending their bill. They said “children deserve a quality education that is fair, unbiased and age appropriate. This legislation promotes free and fair discussion.”
But critics disagree with the bill. R.J. McKay is the President of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center.
“This legislation is so limiting to what can be taught in schools. Legislators really should not be legislating and telling teachers and school boards what is appropriate and not appropriate to be taught in the classroom,” McKay said.
McKay said he is also worried the bill will send the wrong message to businesses looking to call Ohio home.
“Even introducing legislation that takes rights away from individuals or limits diversity or inclusion around the state hurts businesses and hurts the good work the Governor and other folks have been doing,” McKay said.
Education leaders are also worried about this piece of legislation. Scott DiMauro, the President of the Ohio Education Association, said he believes it will hurt both teachers and students in the long run.
“Someone might say oh you’re teaching about sexual orientation because you’re allowing kids to talk about being in a family where they have two moms or two dads. On the other hand, if the teacher does shut that conversation down, think about the impact that has on the child and on that family, and the message that it sends that some families are more worthy of respect and support than others.” DiMauro explained.
In the statement released by Representatives Loychik and Schmidt, the believe the topics of sex and gender should be discussed at home. Crystal Miller, a parent in the Miami Valley, agreed.
“I don’t feel like school is the place for this to be taught, at all. People don’t send their kid to school to learn about their sexual orientation or anyone else’s, or their identity or anyone else’s. They send them there to get an education so they can find a good career when they get grown,” Miller said.
Miller has six kids and three of them are still in grade school. She believes it is up to parents like her to teach children about these topics.
“It’s the parents job to raise this child to be a good, responsible person to be able to live out in the society correctly. It’s the parents job to do that. Your third grade teacher is not going to ensure you grow up to be a good person, your parents are supposed to do that,” Miller said.
The bill would also allow complaints to be filed against educators if they violate the law. The bill is waiting to be taken up by a committee.