A bill similar to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law made its way to the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday with the proposal of House Bill 616.

The legislation co-sponsored by Valley State Rep. Mike Loychik (R-OH) proposes to 'prohibit using textbooks and imposing curriculum that promotes or endorses divisive issues and inherently racist comments'.

Critics say it is similar to Florida's new Parents Right Law, also known as the 'Don't Say Gay Law'.

Among the restrictions in Ohio House Bill 616:

- No teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity to kids from kindergarten through third grade.

- No teaching to older students any material that's deemed not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

- No teacher shall receive continuing education credit or other credit require for licensure renewal for any seminar or other program that teaches, promotes or endorses divisive or inherently racist concepts.

Loychik did not return our calls for comment, but released this statement:

"Children deserve a quality education that is fair, unbiased and age appropriate. This legislation promotes free and fair discussion," Loychik said in a press release.

Teacher's unions say they're against the bill.

"Ohio doesn't even have comprehensive health education standards and so where some of these things come into play currently is not really clear," Scott DiMauro said, president of the Ohio Education Association.

He calls the proposed legislation a political move.

"This is instead legislation that is all about sewing division and using race and sexual orientation as wedge issues to score political points," DiMauro said.

Melissa Cropper with the American Federation of Teachers says the bill is 'very concerning' and subjective in nature.

"I think situations like that are best dealt with on a local level, where it's being dealt with in context of what's happening in that classroom, in that school," Cropper said.

Cropper says districts shouldn't ban conversations about family structures and sexual orientation.

"We do have teachers who are transgender, we do have teachers who are homosexual and we do have students who live in families that are that way too, so to never be able to mention those kinds of things is unfair," she said.


Among the districts that returned our calls, Warren and Youngstown city schools along with Poland Local Schools leaders say their districts do not have sexual orientation or gender identity teachings in the curriculum.

"We're not teaching transgender, we're not teaching gay, lesbian, we're not teaching sex, we're not teaching those types of identity or race issues," Craig Hockenberry said, superintendent of Poland Local Schools.

Hockenberry says the district follows all state standards with its curriculum and leaves those conversations up to the parents, but they do also offer support services when needed.

"Those are things we leave to the family," he said.

House Bill 616 now awaits a committee assignment.