***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
April 6, 2022
Tracy Nájera, Executive Director Alison Paxson, Communications & Policy Associate
House Bill 616 Would Make Ohio One of the Worst Places to Raise a Family
COLUMBUS – Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) strongly opposes House Bill 616, introduced by Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) in the Ohio legislature this week. This bill runs counter to what all children need to thrive and what Ohio needs to do to be the best place to raise a family.
This new bill merges the same harmful, vague, and subjective language from House Bill 327 that would muzzle teachers and students across Ohio from discussing so-called “divisive concepts” relating to race and racial equity and goes even further in the wrong direction for Ohio’s children by pulling in language that mirrors Florida’s appalling HB 1557, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“In his State of the State, Governor DeWine said, ‘there is simply no better place to raise a family than Ohio’,” states executive director, Tracy Nájera. “We know there is much more to do until we achieve that goal, and we appreciate the work of the Governor and the legislature to improve child wellbeing in recent years. In fact, recent investments in child behavioral health are to be commended – especially at a time when suicide is a top contributor of death for youth between the ages 10-14 in Ohio. Ohio’s LGBTQ+ youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. We must double down in supporting the health of all our youth.”
“However, we know that if Ohio lawmakers should pass the harmful provisions in HB 616 – which would hurt all students in their learning and social and emotional wellbeing as well as deteriorate opportunities for our state’s economic prosperity – we would essentially be throwing our aspirations for Ohio to be the best place to raise a family out the window,” continues Nájera.
This bill has yet to be assigned to be assigned to committee, but CDF-Ohio will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and urge state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to condemn it and keep it from moving forward.
“While this bill strategically distances itself from one of HB 327’s co-sponsors and focuses strictly on school settings, which is in contrast to HB 327 and the impact it could have on local and state entities outside of our educational system,” says executive director, Tracy Nájera. “The costs are still high and stakes remain deep for every sector of our society should this bill gain momentum. We’re looking to business, health, higher education, and other entities to continue to recognize the deep stakes this awful legislation would have for their future workforces and student bodies.”
About Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.