The Board of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio urges legislators and our community members to oppose Ohio House Bill 616.
HB 616 eliminates the ability to teach on and discuss topics like sexual orientation, gender identity, and race. If enacted, HB 616 would attempt to erase discussion of the history and lived experiences of marginalized communities and students. The bill’s broad language will have a chilling effect on learning environments.
HB 616’s definition of anti-racist concepts like diversity, equity, and inclusion as “inherently racist” and its explicit mentions of intersectionality and critical race theory suggest a focus on the sensibilities of a narrow group of adults, rather than deep engagement with the needs and concerns of teachers and students in Ohio’s K-3 classrooms.
Humanists “commit to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity” and “long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern” (The Third Humanist Manifesto). HB 616 directly contradicts our core values by attempting to legislate away any discussion of already marginalized groups.
Listening to people’s stories is at the heart of acknowledging each person’s inherent worth. We can only move toward a world of mutual care by cultivating empathy; empathy cannot be cultivated when the stories, experiences, and histories of marginalized groups are made unspeakable.
It is for these reasons that the Board of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio condemns this bill and others like it.
HB 616 has moved to committee, with public hearings on the horizon. We encourage our members to contact Robert Cupp, Speaker of the House, to express your concerns. His office number is (614) 466-9624. See other methods of communicating with his office here.
We also encourage our members to communicate with their State House Representative. You can find your representative by entering your address at the Ohio House of Representatives website.