House Democratic lawmakers today reacted to hearings on two controversial bills that would force teachers to deny the reality of racism and other topics when creating age-appropriate curricula for Ohio students. The bills, House Bill (HB) 322 and HB 327, received their first hearing in the State and Local Government Committee Tuesday.
“What we teach our kids matters, that’s why it’s so important that our teachers are able to teach the truth. Denying reality and limiting the scope of our children’s education sets us up for failure now and in the future,” said Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), the Ranking Democrat on the State and Local Government Committee. “Teaching our kids about race and racism isn’t divisive, it’s critical to ensuring the next generation understands and values the diversity of our state.”
Both Republican bills would limit the ability for teachers and school districts to have honest, age-appropriate discussions and learning opportunities about the past and present history of Ohio and the United States regarding race and racism, gender and sexism, and other related topics the bill sponsors define as “divisive concepts.” HB 327 was amended in committee with a sub-bill that expanded the bill’s divisive concepts to include religion. The Republican-backed proposals would prohibit schools from requiring teachers to use examples from current events or ongoing controversial issues in their classrooms and ensure teachers cannot be required to affirm beliefs about certain concepts like systemic racism and multiple or fluid gender identities.
“Black, white, or brown; boy or girl, cisgender or LGBTQ; Ohio’s children deserve an education that allows them to think critically. Usurping our locally elected school boards and forcing teachers to deny reality doesn’t help our kids learn and grow,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), the Ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee. “Our children deserve to know the real history of our state. It’s fundamental to ensuring the next generation has the tools it needs to thrive and build a better future for them and their children.”
Lawmakers in more than 20 states have proposed measures that would keep teachers from discussing topics like structural racism and implicit bias at the K-12 level.
Following Tuesday’s hearings, HBs 322 and 327 await further consideration from the House State and Local Government Committee.