Legislative Watch – April 11, 2022

HB 616 Introduced: Doubles-Down on “Divisive Concepts” Prohibitions; Adds “Don’t Say Gay”

House Bill 616 is an attack on students, educators, public schools, and Ohio’s collective future. The Ohio Education Association (OEA) denounces HB 616 and vows to continue the fight to ensure students have the freedom to learn and thrive.

HB 616 doubles-down on the worst parts of Ohio HB 327, the anti-freedom ‘divisive concepts bill,’ by adding the worst parts of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into the new proposed language, which applies to school districts, charter schools, STEM schools, and private schools that take state vouchers.

The bill was introduced on April 4, 2022, and is jointly sponsored by Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Cortland) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland). There are no co-sponsors and the bill has yet to be assigned to an Ohio House legislative committee.

OEA and its allies will remain vigilant in fighting against legislation designed to threaten and silence students and educators, whether it is HB 616 or similar bills like HB 322 and HB 327 that have failed to make progress in the Ohio General Assembly.

In addition to harmful state censorship that undermines honesty in education, HB 616 targets LGBTQ students and their allies with a “don’t say gay” mandate. This comes at a time when LGBTQ students are three to four times more likely than non-LGBTQ students to report persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and even self-harm – not because of who they are but because of the hostility directed at them.

Join with OEA to advocate for truth in education, safe learning environments for students, and secure working conditions for educators.

TAKE ACTION: OEA Action Alert – HB 616 – Click here. Please invest a few minutes and send an email letter to your state representative asking them to oppose this harmful bill.

OEA HB 616 Bill Summary – Click here
OEA HB 616 Talking Points – Click here

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