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Ohio Senate To Hold Diversity Training After Huffman's Comments On 'Colored Population'

Republican Sen. Steve Huffman speaks during a rally at Darke County GOP headquarters in Greenville, Ohio in this October 13, 2014 file photo.
Al Behrman
/
AP
Republican Sen. Steve Huffman speaks during a rally at Darke County GOP headquarters in Greenville, Ohio in this October 13, 2014 file photo.

The Republican leader of the Ohio Senate, Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), has issued a rebuke to racist comments made by state Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) during a committee hearing last week.

Huffman drew sharp criticism after using the term "colored population" during a committee hearing on a resolution, SCR14, that would declare racism as a public health crisis. He asked the Angela Dawson, the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, about the disproportionate number of Black people among Ohio's coronavirus cases.

"Couldn't it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear masks? Or do not socially distance themselves?" Huffman asked.

Obhof said Huffman's language was "not appropriate" and "hurtful."

"I have spoken to him and made clear that it has no place in our discourse. He has apologized and has begun the process of seeking and earning the forgiveness of those hurt by his remarks," Obhof said in a written statement. "The Senate is committed to learning from this moment."

Obhof says the Senate will begin training members and staff on diversity, inclusion and implicit bias.

Huffman, who later apologized on his Facebook page, was subsequently fired from his job as an ER doctor in the Miami Valley region.

TeamHealth, the hospital network Huffman worked for, issued a statement saying, "Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace. TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment.”