Resolution condemning LGBTQ anti-discrimination language passed by Ohio’s state Board of Education

Unenforceable measure opposed in hours of testimony

By: - December 14, 2022 4:50 am

Students in a classroom. Getty Images.

A resolution that has no enforceable authority has been approved by Ohio’s State Board of Education, standing in opposition to proposed LGBTQ anti-discrimination rules not even a part of federal regulations yet.

The state board heard several more hours of testimony against the resolution, which condemns proposed changes to federal anti-discrimination language to include gender identity, on Monday, before voting 10-7 to approve the measure on Tuesday.

The measure changed slightly from Monday to Tuesday, as an amendment from board member Michelle Newman eliminated the first three paragraphs of the resolution.

Those paragraphs said that education “rests on the understanding that there are objective facts and absolute truths,” and that biological sex “is one such objective, scientific fact.”

The Merriam Webster definition of “sex” as “either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures” was also removed.

Board member Meryl Johnson said the dictionary definition was dated, just as arguments that the Earth is flat were once entertained, but debunked.

“We heard enough testimony, valid, reliable testimony, that that is just plain wrong,” Johnson said.

Mike Toal, the member whose changes to the resolution served as the final version after small adjustments were made to Brendan Shea’s original language, opposed the removal of the paragraphs, saying there were no court rulings “of some kind that redefines sex to include gender.”

But the definition or even the existence of LGBTQ individuals wasn’t the point of the measure, he said.

“I know that there’s intersex people … but I don’t think that’s the question,” Toal said. “The question is: Is it right for the federal government … to simply make up laws, make up what definitions are?”

Newman defended her amendment and her opposition to the bill as a whole saying the language was not needed “to achieve the resolution’s intent.”

“We are not a legislative body,” Newman said. “This is not our discussion to have; this is not our decision to make.”

Dr. Christina Collins said the fact that the resolution “singles out one group of children” caused her to oppose it.

“If this resolution simply said that, that the federal government should never punish children for adult decisions in any agenda items … I would 100% agree,” Collins said.

One proposed amendment failed to get through the board. That measure was to remove a requirement that a letter be attached to copies of the resolution that specified the state board’s opposition to the federal language and the fact that state Attorney General Dave Yost joined a lawsuit fighting against the anti-discrimination changes.



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.