COLUMBUS — Three pending bills in the Ohio House of Representatives here address a couple of controversial subjects that spark emotion on opposing sides of the related debates.
Two bills (House Bill 322 and House Bill 327) concern the teaching of what has been referred to as “critical race theory (CRT)” in Ohio’s public schools while the other (House Bill 61) concerns transgender persons’ participation in girl’s and women’s sports.
HB 322 and HB 327 were introduced by Republican legislators in May while HB 61 was brought forward by Republican lawmakers in February.
All three remain in committees — HB 322 and HB 327 with the state and local government committee, and HB 61 with the primary and secondary education committee — and had second hearings in late June.
HB 322 and HB 327 are similar in their efforts to prevent the teaching in public schools of CRT, a theory which suggests that racism is institutionalized in the country’s laws and policies. Opponents of CRT believe this teaching is divisive and does not accurately portray the country today.
Very generally speaking, HB 322 would amend the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) “regarding the teaching of certain current events and certain concepts regarding race and sex in public schools.”
HB 327 would make changes to the ORC “to prohibit school districts, community schools, STEM schools and state agencies from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts.”
“I absolutely, totally support these bills,” said Ohio 82nd House District Rep. Craig Riedel of Defiance. “I think it should be unlawful to teach any sort of system that portrays the United States as a racist country. Whenever I hear someone state that that United States is systemically racist it makes me angry because it’s not true.”
Riedel acknowledges the difficulties of the country’s founding — noting, for example, that some of the founding fathers owned slaves — but rejects suggestions that “we should all regret our forefathers 240 years ago.”
HB 61, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, would “require schools, state institutions of higher education, and private colleges to designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.”
He believes transgendered individuals who would participate in girls’ or women’s athletic events would have unfair physical advantages.
Riedel noted that a person born a male has a “larger heart, larger lungs and stronger bone mass,” which are things that “differentiate between a man and a woman.”
HB 322 was introduced by Republican Don Jones of the House’s 95th District while HB 327 was brought forward by Republicans Diane Grendell of the 76th House District and Sarah Arthur of 99th District.
HB 61 was introduced by Republicans Reggie Stolzfuz of the 50th District and Jena Powell of the 80th House District.
The Ohio General Assembly is on summer recess and won’t return until mid-September, when the above bills are expected to receive attention.
“I believe all three of those bills will be high priorities when we come back, especially the two critical race theory bills,” said Riedel.