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OEA denounces House Bill 616

[April 5, 2022] The Ohio Education Association (OEA) condemns in the strongest terms possible House Bill 616, which was introduced Monday as an attempt to double-down on the worst parts of Ohio House Bill 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. OEA believes HB 616 is reprehensible on every level.

“These politicians are continuing to use race and sexual orientation as wedge issues to score cheap political points, and they should be ashamed of themselves,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “Rather than persisting with these disingenuous attacks on educators and public schools, we need pro-public education policies that enable students to think critically about the world around them and empower them to be proud of who they are, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they express their gender identities, or who they – or their parents – love.”

“House Bill 616 represents yet another example of how a national network of extremists is seeking to hijack the education conversation in our state to control a political narrative and distract Ohioans from the real issues facing our public schools,” DiMauro added. “The architects of this bill, who have decided to copy and paste some of the most damaging parts of Florida’s ultra-divisive legislation, are targeting some of Ohio’s most vulnerable students and families and setting Ohio up for a Florida-like showdown with the businesses our state leaders have been working so hard to attract.”

“Why would Ohio want to follow in Florida’s footsteps after it forced a showdown with Disney, one of the state’s biggest employers?” DiMauro questioned. “HB 616 is exactly the kind of legislation that could send Intel and other major employers running, hurting our students’ future job prospects for decades to come.”

HB 616 would also have a serious chilling effect on Ohio’s education profession, which is already facing a recruitment crisis. At a time when it has become increasingly difficult to attract new educators to our classrooms to ensure the adequate staffing levels our students need to receive a world-class education, Ohio lawmakers are sending exactly the wrong message to the state’s education workforce. “Our students and educators cannot be pawns in these ongoing political games,” DiMauro said. “House Bill 616 would have grave consequences for Ohio’s children, public schools, and wider economy. We all deserve better.”