Ohio Joins DeSantis Bill Protecting Kids K-3 From Sexual Grooming In School

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) – Two Republican state lawmakers this week introduced a version of the same legislation that banned teaching about sexual and gender orientation in Florida that was recently passed into law but created major controversies there. One of those sponsors is Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), the former congresswoman.

HB616 is very close to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill from Florida, and it’s already set off a huge political firestorm across the state and fear from LGBTQ+ advocates of possibly harming already marginalized students.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed that state’s bill into law just last week — a move followed by mass protests and student walkouts in that state.

Much like the Florida law, the Ohio version would prohibit teachers from discussing anything to do with gender or sexual identity in kindergarten through third grade. Such material would only be allowed on an age-appropriate basis after that.

The bill would join with other previously proposed legislation that would bar teaching so-called racially divisive or inherently racist concepts, including the 1619 Project — an initiative from The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine that reframes American history through the lens of slavery’s impact and the contributions of Black Americans — and concepts like critical race theory; intersectional theory; diversity, equity and inclusion learning outcomes and inherited racial guilt.

Local 12 reached out to Schmidt and her office Tuesday, as well as the other co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta), but got no response.

Several reporters tried to ask Schmidt about the bill Tuesday at the statehouse. She was recorded hurrying away from them, refusing to talk or answer questions about her proposal.

Local 12’s sister station WSYX in Columbus received a statement from both late Tuesday:

Schmidt: “Parents deserve and should be provided a say in what is taught to their children in schools. The intent of this bill is to provide them with the tools to be able to see what their child is being taught.”

Loychik: “Children deserve a quality education that is fair, unbiased and age appropriate. This legislation promotes free and fair discussion.”

State Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) opposes the measure, saying it could hurt the state’s economy with some large companies choosing to stay away from other states with such laws.

“These kinds of bills are so troubling, and in a state where teachers and educators are required to teach our students critical thinking skills? This flies right in the face of that,” Miranda said.

Shawn Jeffers with the Greater Cincinnati’s chapter of the Gay Lesbian Safe Education Network says the bill could hurt young students who have same-sex parents. He adds it would further create fear against already marginalized students.

“If they frame it in a way that this is something to be scared of, this is the great big boogeyman, then people, because they don’t have another way to think about it, will sometimes worry about it,” Jeffers said.

Local 12 also reached out to Republican leadership about the bill’s prospects but did not hear back, so there is no word yet at this point on whether it will even get a committee hearing.

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