Human Rights Campaign Mobilizes to Defeat Ohio’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” Education Censorship Bill

by Henry Berg-Brousseau

New bill goes further than Florida law, censors school discussions around sexual orientation, gender identity, racial discrimination

Following the introduction yesterday of HB616, a new version of the “Don’t Say Gay, Don’t Say Trans” bill, in the Ohio House of Representatives, the Human Rights Campaign is working alongside parents and advocates to call on House Speaker Robert R. Cupp to stop this latest attack on the LGBTQ+ community.

The legislation, introduced by Representative Jean Schmidt and Representative Mike Loychik, is already opposed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, led by former Republican Congressman Steve Stivers. It would go further than previous efforts in other states and expands censorship of classroom discussion for K-12 students that touches on sexual orientation, gender identity, or the history of racial discrimination in the United States and the work done to move towards equality.

Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison issued the following statement today:

“Ohio deserves better. This bill does not solve any problems. It will not make life any easier for Ohioans who are trying to make ends meet. What it will do is impose a chilling effect on free speech in classrooms across the Buckeye State and make LGBTQ+ students and people of color feel marginalized at school, a place where they should have the opportunity to learn and grow up feeling respected for who they are.”
“We should all be working together to make sure that all students feel safe and welcome in their schools. This bill will have exactly the opposite effect and go even further than Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law in censoring speech in the classroom. Speaker Cupp needs to make clear that this extreme attack will not move forward in the Ohio House.”

Truth and facts still matter. Any efforts to censor conversations about race, gender, or sexual orientation are a threat to efforts to change hearts and minds as we fight for equality for all. Last week, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law that ostracizes LGBTQ+ students. The legislation introduced yesterday in Ohio goes even further by banning the teaching of so-called “divisive concepts”, which includes curricula on intersectionality and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Teachers would be unable to obtain continuing education credits from programs that supposedly endorsed these concepts, which could result in the loss of their teaching licenses. The bill also bans the use of instructional materials on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and would ban them in higher grade levels if taught in a way that has not been clearly defined by legislators.

Media interested in speaking with Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley should reach out to

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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