Ohio is shaping up to be the Midwest version of Florida. Republicans brought House Bill 616 to the floor on Monday (4/4). It is Ohio’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, it adopts most of Florida’s bill by the same nickname and it also seeks to prohibit educators from promoting “divisive concepts” in history, therefore excluding the use of The 1619 Project among other forms of literature and media.
As I grow as a man, as an educator, and as a parent, I recognize the importance of conversation and learning across topics. More importantly, I understand the damage that comes from silencing certain truths. In schools, more so than any other space, students learn about who they are and explore who they want to be. This includes learning and exploring sexuality, it is often in school where they will begin to realize their sexual orientation. For many of our LGBTQIA peers, this was not the safest place to learn about themselves. They often fell victim to physical and emotional assault for essentially being themselves. The passing of any bill remotely similar to HB 616 will effectively prevent their school from establishing safe spaces for them to exercise their basic human rights and by proxy prevent educators from creating safe spaces for those students to learn safety. It furthermore gives homophobic people (especially homophobic educators) more power to further oppress students. Don’t worry, it gets better (oops I mean worse).
THEY DON’T WANT YALL’S KIDS TO KNOW THE TRUTH, or at least they don’t want them to learn about different perspectives. The second part of Hell Bound 616… I mean House Bill 616 is to effectively ban educators, school buildings, and school districts alike from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT), which is taught in COLLEGE COURSES, more specifically in courses for law majors. Included in this are “any other concepts DEFINED BY THE OHIO STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION as divisive or inherently racist”, and guess who mostly sits on the Ohio State Board of Education? Students need to know the full scope of how America came to be and how its early implementation of systems still has residual and long-lasting effects.
A teacher who is not free to teach is not a teacher. This bill is meant to restrict, limit, and sanction real-life discussions. I am deeply angered by the proposal of such a bill. I vehemently stand against it. Its purpose is to prevent me and other educators from serving our communities and prevent my students and my children from learning about themselves and their peers.