State Board of Ed. faces backlash

The Ohio State Board of Education has proposed a resolution rejecting the Biden administration’s amendment to Title IX, which expands protections for LGBT+ students

By Jackson Hare, Education and Enrichment Coordinator

During the Ohio Board of Education meeting on Sept. 20, board member Brendan Shea proposed a resolution rejecting the Biden administration’s amendment to Title IX, which expands protections to LGBT+ students.

This June, the Biden administration proposed an amendment to Title IX to protect LGBT+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. If passed, Shea’s Resolution to Support Parents, Schools and Districts in Rejecting Harmful, Coercive and Burdensome Gender Identity Policies will urge Ohio public schools to refuse the amendment to Title IX.

The resolution could put federally-funded programs at risk, including free or reduced-cost school lunches. In addition, the resolution would back Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s legal challenge to the federal amendment to Title IX.

The language of the resolution focuses specifically on transgender students, proposing legislation be passed to bar transgender students from participating in activities, educational programs and using facilities inconsistent with their assigned sex at birth. 

It suggests legislation be passed to “out” students to their parents if anyone “claims a discordant gender identity, questions their gender identity, requests alternative names or pronouns, or otherwise indicates mental or emotional distress about their gender identity.”

The resolution has sparked criticism. Among those in opposition to the proposal, Maria Bruno, public policy director for Equality Ohio, suggests that this resolution puts LGBT+ children in harm’s way.

“It’s policy proposals just like this one that make certain individuals feel empowered to create hostile learning environments for some of their students,” Bruno said.

In reference to the resolution’s aim to force teachers and school staff to out students, Bruno adds that this will contribute to an epidemic of homelessness in the LGBT+ community.

“I feel obligated to remind this body that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT+. Every day, kids get kicked out of their homes, and forcing schools to ‘out’ kids to their parents regardless of their home situation will lead to unconscionable cruelty and likely increased homelessness among LGBT+ youth,” Bruno said.

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Addressing this concern and recognizing the potential threat this may have to the mental and emotional well being of LGBT+ students Shea suggests voters must weigh the costs.

“Which would be the greater crime? The child who harms himself because his parents were informed, or the child who harmed himself all while systematically deprived by the state of a parent’s love in this specific area at the time he needed it most?” Shea asked.

Weighing in on the controversy, sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public and history major, Alyssa Blanford suggests that this resolution is disheartening.

“It makes me wonder whether or not it’s worth it to be a teacher. I don’t feel comfortable being a teacher if I am in a classroom and I’m forced to out students. I don’t want to be responsible for that. That is not my place. It’s nobody’s place,” Blandford stressed.

Xavier’s Title IX and Interpersonal Violence Response Coordinator, Kate Lawson, said that she wants her kids to be raised in an inclusive environment. 

“As a Title IX administrator and as a parents, that’s what I want my kids’ education to teach them and that’s the kind of safe and supportive environment I want my kids to have,” Lawson said.

Cincinnati School Board Member Mike Moroski was highly critical of the resolution.

“If that state school board passes this resolution they are going to have a hell of a time trying to get me to abide by it in Cincinnati. What a negligence of duty by a bunch of bigots,” Moroski said on Twitter.

While the controversy surrounding Shea’s proposal continues to unfold, the Board of Education is set to meet on Oct. 11, where they will vote on the proposed resolution.