(TargetLiberty.org) – The passing of Florida’s controversial parental rights bill (HB 241) ignited a firestorm of debate within the state and beyond. Nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” measure, the controversial legislation effectively bans sexual orientation and gender identity lessons for kids in grades kindergarten through 3. Now, Ohio looks to enact a similar bill to ensure parents retain the right to control what their children learn — and when.
About Ohio’s New Bill
As with Florida’s HB 241, HB 616 effectively blocks educators from teaching kids in grades kindergarten through 3 any curriculum that contains sexual orientation or gender identity topics. Spearheaded by Representatives Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Mike Loychik (R-OH), it also places significant limitations on topics related to race and Critical Race Theory (CRT).
It isn’t yet clear whether HB 616 will actually become law. For the moment, it remains a proposed motion only. Ohio State Governor Mike DeWine would need to sign off on the bill before it moves forward and has thus far only agreed to consider its merits.
DeWine’s historical attitudes toward such interventions also render the bill’s future uncertain. In 2021, the governor was heavily critical of a GOP-led measure to ban transgender girls from participating in sports. He called legislative action unnecessary and suggested that it was “best addressed outside of government through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association.”
Whether or not DeWine’s mindset will carry over to HB 616, which stands to have far more wide-reaching effects on educators, is uncertain. But without his approval, the bill is all but doomed to stall.
How HB 616 Compares to HB 241
Both HB 616 and HB 241 attempt to give parents more rights over what kids learn during school hours. The two pieces of legislation are aimed explicitly at children in grades 3 and below and face similar complaints from critics who label the measures “anti-gay.”
What the two new bills also share, however, is the fact neither specifically contains the words “gay” or really any reference to a specific segment of the LGBT community, and that’s an important distinction. Instead, they each specifically focus on parental rights.
Where HB 616 differs, however, actually lies in the fact it goes much further than HB 241. While Florida’s legislation really only targets sexual orientation and gender identity curriculums, Ohio’s bill also prevents CRT and most racial bias topics, such as white privilege, intersectionality, and the idea of inherent systemic racism in the United States.
Make no mistake: it doesn’t mean Florida officials aren’t trying to tackle the issue of CRT in schools in other ways. In fact, the GOP previously passed a separate measure (HB 7) back in March to address the very issue. That particular piece of legislation actually applies to both classrooms and workplaces.
Other states may follow suit with their own bills in the near future. In fact, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is currently advocating for his state to pass its own measure to enshrine parental rights in the classroom.
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