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GOP lawmakers look to limit sexual orientation talks

COLUMBUS — Ohio educators would be banned from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade under newly introduced Republican legislation.

The Ohio legislation also would require that teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity must be age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for children in fourth through 12th grades, according to the bill introduced Monday by Reps. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, and Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta.

The proposal also would prohibit the teaching of “divisive or inherently racist concepts,” including the academic theory known as critical race theory.

That prohibition is similar to other bills pending in the Ohio Legislature that ban schools from requiring or compelling Ohio teachers to affirm a belief in the systemic nature of racism or “the multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities.”

“Children deserve a quality education that is fair, unbiased and age appropriate,” Loychik said in a statement. “This legislation promotes free and fair discussion.”

Schmidt said House Bill 616 makes clear that all people are equal regardless of their skin color, race, sex, religion or national origin.

“The classroom is a place that seeks answers for our children without political activism,” Schmidt said. “Parents deserve and should be provided a say in what is taught to their children in schools. The intent of this bill is to provide them with the tools to be able to see what their child is being taught.”

The legislation would require the State Board of Education to develop a process to file complaints against how educators have violated the provisions of the bill.

It closely mirrors a recently passed Florida law dubbed “Don’t say gay” by critics.

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