Legislative Watch – May 27, 2022

HB 616 Scheduled for First Hearing Testimony from Bill Sponsors: State Censorship Bill Prohibits “Divisive Concepts;” Includes “Don’t Say Gay” Restrictions

House Bill 616 has been scheduled for a first hearing in the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at 3:00 PM, in Room 114 of the Ohio Statehouse. The committee will hear testimony from the bill sponsors, Rep. Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township). The bill has no co-sponsors.

HB 616 doubles-down on state censorship of “divisive topics” from HB 327 and adds parts of Florida’s recently passed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Violations of “divisive topics” and “don’t say gay” prohibitions could result in educator license revocation and withholding of state funding for schools.

HB 616 applies to school districts, charter schools, STEM schools, and private schools that enroll students in a state voucher program. Higher education institutions would be prohibited from including “divisive topics” in continuing education credits or professional development programs for educator license renewal.

OEA opposes HB 616 and other similar legislation, such as HB 327 (R-Fowler/R-Grendell). Educators and students deserve the freedom to teach and learn without fear of state censorship, intimidation, and punishment based on vague government prohibitions on speech and ideas. All Ohio children deserve an honest and reflective education that empowers them to become critical thinkers and future leaders.

Take action to protect educators and students. Use the OEA HB 616 Action Alert to send an email to your state representative asking them to oppose this harmful legislation: