Ohio is No Place for Hate: Our Statement on HB616

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Ohio is No Place for Hate: Our Statement on HB616

Categories: News, Social Justice, Statement

YWCA Columbus stands with our coalition partners against House Bill 616, colloquially named the “Don’t Say Gay, Don’t Say Race” bill. We believe that Ohio’s schools should be filled with opportunities for gaining an honest education, safety, and the affirmation of all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. We reject this attempt at censorship in our schools, which would target the most vulnerable and marginalized among us, and firmly anchor Ohio’s school children in isolation and ignorance in the competitive, progressive, and antiracist world we are building.While there are other bills that wish to censor Ohio’s K-12 education, HB616 takes one step further than those previous iterations against honest education by banning the following specific tools of antiracism: Critical Race Theory, the “1619 Project,” Diversity, equity, and inclusion learning outcomes, and more. In addition, this proposed bill would prohibit school boards from allowing students to read books that would “promote divisive or inherent racist concepts,” looking to stop schools from teaching truly inclusive and accurate history in the name of protecting White Supremacy. Furthermore, this bill would explicitly ban teaching about sexual orientation and gender-identity in grades K-3, and only allow what is considered “developmentally appropriate” mentions in grades 4-12, which could place bans on discussion of gender expansiveness and fluidity.

According to the nonpartisan analysis offered by the Legislative Service Commission, if a teacher or administrator breaches the restrictions in this bill, they would be issued an adjudication based on the severity of offense, which could include de-licensure. Such drastic measures serve as a cooling-effect, scaring teachers away from sharing anything that could create the potential of losing their license. This type of legislation will disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ teachers and teachers of color, especially women, and students of color, whose own lived experiences could then be deemed “divisive.” At a time when we are facing a teacher shortage due to the pandemic and to burnout, pursuing this punitive and overly bureaucratic bill which goes against the ethos of the teaching profession will only serve to create more divisiveness and fear.

YWCA Columbus is on a mission to eliminate racism, and empower women and invite you to join our efforts —write the Chair of the State and Local Government Committee, Representative Scott Wiggam, and tell him to stop the forward progress of this bill, and that Ohio is no place for hate: rep01@ohiohouse.gov


While we build towards a more equitable Ohio through our elected officials, YWCA Columbus will also continue providing Justice, Equity, and Belonging trainings and intersectional education on systemic oppression for potential partners in education that would provide a bridge to help build socially aware and well-adjusted students in Ohio. We recognize how important DEI values are in K-12 education, for both validating the experiences of students with marginalized identities, and for expanding the worldview of teachers. We desire to play our role in building antiracist world by offering these tools to anyone who might need them—including students and educators.


Let the Ohio legislature know Ohio is no place for hate by registering friends to vote and contacting your elected officials. Learn more.