TOLEDO, Ohio — The attached video originally aired April 6, 2022.
Dozens of Maumee Valley Country Day students walked out of their classes Thursday to protest Ohio House Bill 616.
The bill has been compared to legislation recently enacted in Florida, commonly referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Both students and adults were seen participating in the 45-minute demonstration.
If passed, Ohio educators would be banned from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. For students in fourth through twelfth grade, it would require that teaching to be age or developmentally appropriate.
Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, said last month that he had serious concerns about how HB 616 would change the classroom environment.
"Imagine a scenario where you have a teacher who is teaching a lesson with primary level students about family, community and neighborhood, and you have a child in the class who mentions that she happens to have two moms or two dads. Under the language of the bill, it's not clear whether the educator would have the responsibility to shut that conversation down," DiMauro said.
The proposal would also ban the teaching of “divisive or inherently racist concepts," including critical race theory, an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic in the country's institutions.
That prohibition mimics other bills pending in the Ohio Legislature that would bar schools from compelling teachers to affirm a belief in the systemic nature of racism or “the multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities.”
Co-sponsors of the bill, Ohio Representatives Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), said they believe these discussions belong outside of school walls.
"Curriculum about gender identity and sexuality has no place in K-3 classrooms, period. That's why I just introduced a bill to ban curriculum about sexuality and gender identity until 3rd grade in Ohio," Loychick said.
Schmidt said the goal of the legislation is to empower parents.
"The classroom is a place that seeks answers for our children without political activism. 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," she said.