Ohio state Board of Education president Charlotte McGuire speaks at the most recent executive committee meeting of the board.
Opposition to a federal policy change involving the LGBTQ community seems to be a family affair when it comes to the president of Ohio’s state board of education and her husband, who is a member of the Republican State Central Committee.
Though Ohio Board of Education President Charlotte McGuire attempted to alter a resolution against including gender identity in education policies, those changes also still stood in opposition to changes to include trans students in anti-discrimination language that the Biden administration is trying to implement in Title IX sex discrimination policy.
McGuire said the original resolution, introduced by fellow board member Brendan Shea, “started a statewide conversation and it also helped inform the general electorate,” but also said the discussion has lost the point of the board’s role in the state.
“We want to get back to the ‘why’ and the purpose of education, and that is to grow the next generation of leaders starting in the family home and in every sector of society,” McGuire said during a recent executive committee meeting of the board.
Her amendment to the Shea resolution “urges the General Assembly to oppose and take appropriate policy action to address the Title IX regulatory changes and to protect and uphold student and parental rights as well as local control of schools and districts as defined in the Ohio Revised Code.”
The aim of her amendment would be to “advance academic excellence in K-12 education in safe school environments free from social identity policies that may infringe upon the unalienable rights of parents, students, educators, and district administrators,” she said.
This amendment came as a surprise to fellow executive committee members and fellow board of ed members who attended as non-committee members.
McGuire said she had made the decision to write out her thoughts in the form of this amendment without consulting the board.
“Because this board has caucuses if you will, I wrote my inspirations, and they were confined to me and me alone,” McGuire said.
McGuire’s husband, Dayton-area pastor Arthur McGuire, joined in on a public push to move the LGBTQ resolution through when he was among the Republican State Central Committee members who signed an Oct. 11 letter urging Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik to “stop the implementation of proposed gender-affirming rules issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture and associated guidance.”
“Otherwise, all taxpayer-supported schools (including chartered Christian schools) and daycare programs will be required to accept the gender identity (thoughts and feelings) of students rather than their (male/female) biological determinates,” according to the letter, published as an opinion piece by the Ohio Press Network.
The letter points with pride to a 2016 letter from then-Attorney General Mike DeWine to the U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Secretary of Education in which he said the “attempt to nationalize and politicize the way schools address gender identity issues down to the level of school locker rooms, shower and bathrooms might be dismissed as simple bureaucratic arrogance were it not so potentially harmful to our civic discourse and to the important rights and needs of all school children involved.”
“To remain silent at this time is to acquiesce to the implementation of rules designed to subvert the power of the state,” the letter from the state central committee members states. “To the trampling of parental rights and remove the safety and privacy rights of school children.”
It asks that now-Gov. DeWine “encourage appointees (on the board of education) to vote for state board member Shea’s original resolution or any amended version approved by him.”
On the state board of education, eight members are appointed by the governor, while the other 11 are elected.
Shea didn’t signal his support for the language Charlotte McGuire offered, taking issue with the language and its quick introduction.
“It does seem like an attempt to basically not take a position and just go right down the middle on an issue that I don’t see how you can do that for,” Shea said during the executive committee meeting.
The board has heard hours of opposition to the resolution from advocates for the LGBTQ community, who see the resolution as erasure of trans students, and could have the potential to put students at risk.
Charlotte McGuire defended her thoughts on amending the resolution, which she said weren’t meant to be replacement language, saying because the state board does not make education policy, it should partner with the General Assembly “to take action.”
“The relevancy and the impact of this board on behalf of the children needs to be seen, felt and be relevant,” she said.
Fellow board member Diana Fessler questioned the appropriateness of McGuire’s comments, considering her role as president of the board.
“It is my understanding — always subject to being corrected — it is the responsibility of the chair to remain neutral, and I’ll leave it at that, thank you,” Fessler said.
But McGuire pushed back, saying she was speaking only as a member of the committee, not as president of the board, and her comments came from a desire to protect parental rights, along with each “unique child.”
“One of the things I say to all my districts,” McGuire said. “Leadership matters. Your culture is determined by the leadership. Do they affirm every child that walks through the door? Do they assure that their innate potential is tapped into?”
The executive committee did not make a decision on any amendments, and moved any discussion or decision on to the November meeting of the board.
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