This bill, which was introduced in early April 2022, is similar to, but even more expansive than Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill”. What does the bill entail & why does it matter?
What is Ohio HB 616?
This bill would ban both instruction and materials about sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade in all public and most private schools.
Students in grades four and higher could discuss these issues, but “any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity” would be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” (Equality Ohio)
So why should Christians care?
1. Christians should care about life
Many LGBTQIA+ people whose stories we have heard over the years through our work have a few things in common. First, they started to notice there was something different about the way that they experienced their sexuality or gender from a very young age. Second, because conversations about these topics were often negative, or didn’t happen at all, many LGBTQIA+ people have attempted to take their own lives. LGBTQIA+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers (Trevor Project).
If schools & classrooms are places where students can hear experiences like their own being talked about openly & in positive ways from a young age, this will reduce the stigma around sexuality & gender, which could lead to reduced suicide rates. Reducing suicide rates in youth is something Christians should care about.
2. Christians should care about honesty
The truth is more & more young people are identifying as LGBTQIA+. Though some Christians find this cause for alarm, censoring healthy instruction and discussion in schools is not the solution. These topics have often been absent in school instruction, and the result has been increased isolation & shame for LGBTQIA+ people.
Rather than seeing discussion around these topics in school environments as a negative thing, Christians should recognize that when young people feel less stigmatized, they are more likely to talk openly about their experiences, which could create opportunities for parents & family to have healthy dialogue with their children about sexuality & gender. More opportunities for honest, open conversation with kids about sexuality & gender is something Christians should care about.
3. Christians should care about love
As we’ve seen in the recent history of the church, censoring conversation around sexuality & gender produces bad fruit: shame, isolation & separation from Christian community. Though Christians might not always know how to best approach these difficult & complex topics, we should not rush to silence them. We already know what that leads to.
Through LOVEboldly’s work over the years, we have seen how having open, honest conversations around these topics almost always leads to greater understanding, love & compassion. Let’s see these discussions taking place in school as opportunities to walk more closely with young people & learn how to speak with love, grace & truth.
So what can you do?
1. Contact local lawmakers
Tell Ohio lawmakers to denounce House Bill 616 and stop supporting harmful legislation. Call House Speaker Cupp at (614) 466-9624.
2. Share this information
Share what you learned today with other people! As Christians, instead of responding with fear, let’s lean into these conversations & grow as people who speak with love & compassion on issues of sexuality & gender. Not sure where to start? Visit our resources page to begin your journey.
Want to share this information another way?
Share our Instagram post or download the images and share it to your social media channels (and tag @loveboldly). You can also download our bulletin insert to include in your church bulletin, newsletters or other forms of communication!