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Ohio board of education delays vote on a resolution opposing LGBTQ protections

Protestors outside the Ohio State Board of Education meeting on October 12, 2022
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Protesters outside the Ohio State Board of Education meeting on October 12, 2022

After listening to more than four hours of testimony from supporters and opponents on a controversial resolution that would push back on a federal anti-discrimination policy, the Ohio State Board of Education voted to take more time to consider it.

The proposed resolution, sponsored by member Brendan Shea, is being sent to the board's executive committee because many members said they have too many questions about the measure.

But Shea, who homeschools his own children, isn't happy the board overseeing the state's public school system sent the resolution to the executive committee instead of voting on it outright.

"We just can't sit here today and say that it's definitely coming back. It will be up to the will of that committee and I think it's worth putting on the floor that for many, I think this is an idea to make this go away," Shea said.

The school board meets monthly and the executive committee doesn't meet every month. So this resolution likely won't be voted on before Nov. 8 when some of the board's members are up for re-election.

Shea's resolution shows support for state efforts already underway — backed by Republican leadership — to push back on a Biden administrative anti-discrimination policy for schools that accept federal dollars for school lunch programs.

Shea has called the federal anti-discrimination policy a “flagrant violation of parents rights.”

The board's decision to delay a vote comes after about 150 people testified for or against the resolution. Some members pointed out more than two dozen people who wanted to testify didn't get the opportunity to do so.

Those who did testify included some Ohio legislators who are sponsoring controversial legislation of their own involving LGBTQ issues at the Ohio Statehouse. Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) said this is a case of President Biden forcing an agenda on children in the Buckeye State by "stealing milk money" from Ohio's children if schools won't enforce the new policy.

"Who steals milk money from kids? Presidents don't do that. Only punks do that," Click said.

Unlike a month ago when the bulk of the testimony came from people who opposed the resolution, there were many more who showed up to support it this time around.

Gail Larrow, a former middle school teacher, said she counseled students over the years who questioned their gender identity because they didn't align with stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. But she said there are people in schools who are promoting transitioning in schools based on dishonest and inaccurate information.

"Make no mistake. We are in the midst of a colossal fad, one that is amassing billions of dollars for the burgeoning transgender-ism industry. The purveyors of this industry are highly committed to their seductive propaganda. Like some ghoulish siren song, they call out 'listen to us. We understand you better than your parents. What do they know? We will love you,'" Larrow said.

But Rev. Andrew Burns, who serves as an associate pastor at the King Avenue Methodist Church in Columbus, said the resolution is harmful for LGBTQ students. He said the resolution worries him because the LGBTQ students he works with already face discrimination and said it will worsen if this resolution passes.

"It takes away protections from students who need those protections the most and I would be one of the people who would have to clean up the mess you left behind by passing this resolution," Burns said.

Many in the LGBTQ community, like Jonathan Becker, testified the board should not be considering a resolution against an anti-discrimination policy.

"This conversation today, as a gay man is dehumanizing, it's degrading and it's destructive, not only to the adults involved but most especially to the children," Becker said.

The resolution will now be considered by the board's executive committee but there are only two months before the end of this year so some members who have heard the testimony might not be given an opportunity to vote on the measure before they leave at the end of this year.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.