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Week of criticism for state board of education ends with offer of LGBTQ training

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After Ohio’s State Board of Education heard days of criticism, along with legislation to potentially strip them of powers, the body is now preparing for yet another discussion on a resolution being seen as anti-trans.

With that in mind, several groups representing LGBTQ youth and adults have offered a little education of their own.

In a letter to Board President Charlotte McGuire, Vice President Martha Manchester and the other members of the board of ed, groups including Equality Ohio, the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, TransOhio, and the YWCA Columbus offered up their services for “data, insight and knowledge of best practices” as the board prepares to meet Dec. 12 and 13 for their monthly meeting.

“Together, our organizations have provided more than 100 years of direct services to LGBTQIA+ Ohioans,” the letter stated. “We are proud to act as resources to all whose decisions, policies and practices impact the LGBTQIA+ community, and we want to offer an opportunity … for professional development.”

The December meeting is set to include a resolution that has been a part of board business since September, but that authors haven’t yet been able to bring to a vote due to board disagreement.

The resolution would urge the federal government not to include sexual orientation or gender identity in anti-discrimination language that would impact educational policies. The original author of the resolution, board member Brendan Shea, said including the language would force school districts to agree to policies that may not align with parental values. Shea’s initial resolution has been amended by fellow member Mike Toal, but remains against any of the LGBTQ-inclusive language.

The resolution would not have any enforceable powers, but would include sending a cover letter with the resolution to school districts stating the state agency’s opposition to the anti-discrimination language.

The board has heard hours of testimony over multiple days, with several of the groups included in the letter sent last week speaking out in opposition to the measure.

Shea and other supporters of the resolution have pushed for a vote on the measure, but have been rebuffed. The resolution was sent to the board’s executive committee, who spent two separate meetings debating the bill and multiple proposed amendments.

Board member Antoinette Miranda offered one that would have contradicted Shea’s amendment and spoke out in support of the LGBTQ community, whereas Chair McGuire’s proposed amendment would still have said the board does not support the measure, but would have placed the onus on the General Assembly to oppose the language.

The board’s business this year has all come to a head with GOP-led legislation to strip the board of many of their decision making powers.

Senate Bill 178 had its first set of hearings in the state Senate Primary & Secondary Education Committee, where testimony centered largely on criticism of the amount of time the board takes on issues, and the issues on which they choose to focus.

“Some of the discussions … go on and on and they don’t address the true needs that are facing our students,” said Chad Aldis, of the Fordham Institute, in testimony supporting SB 178.

Members of the board argue the bill comes as three progressive-leaning individuals were voted onto the board, replacing three members considered to be more conservative-leaning.


This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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