State school board resolution opposes anti-discrimination rules for gay, trans students

The resolution would urge local school boards to defy new federal rules and call on the legislature to pass more laws surrounding Ohio’s trans students.

The Ohio State Board of Education is expected to consider a resolution early next week opposing new language from the U.S. Department of Education that would prohibit schools who discriminate against transgender and gay students from receiving certain federal funding.

Critics of the resolution said it was scientifically incorrect and does not support the needs of children.

Brendan Shea, who represents Greene County on the Ohio State Board of Education, introduced the resolution, which claims in part that sex is biological and defined at birth – an idea disputed by scientists and advocates for intersex people, who are not born biologically male or female. Shae said the idea was based in biology taught in high schools.

He said the resolution was an attempt to stand up for parents, the well-being of students and the protection of women and girls.

“I do not believe that affirming students in things that are not true, I do not believe that that helps them and I do not believe that giving students 100 gender identity options and confusing and disorienting them, I do not believe that that that will help either,” Shea said. “I think it’s anxiety producing in a time of life that is written with enough anxiety already.”

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“The reality of biological sex can no more be altered than can the reality that two plus two equals four,” the resolution reads. “Denying the reality of biological sex destroys foundational truths upon which education rests and irreparably damages children.”

Four members of the state board - Christina Collins, Meryl Johnson, Michelle Newman and Antoinette Miranda - have already released a joint statement opposing the resolution.

“We are not and should never be in the business of selecting which child is worthy of protection and instruction,” the joint statement said. “This resolution is a political grenade thrown into an arena that has already been overwhelmed with more politics and culture wars than actions that actually improve education.”

Shea said he disagreed with the assessment that the resolution harms children.

“I already stated affirming students in something that is not true, that harm students,” Shea said.

Shea was the lone member of the state board of education who proposed the resolution, and it did not come from a committee.

If passed, the resolution would require the interim state superintendent, Stephanie Siddons, to send a letter to every Ohio school district indicating the Ohio Department of Education opposes these changes and urges districts not to amend local policies or procedures based on these guidance documents.

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It would also state the board’s support for a lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 21 other state attorney generals opposing the rule.

Finally, the resolution calls on Ohio’s legislature to pass further laws requiring schools disclose to parents when their child wants to change their pronouns or name and require students to use bathrooms that match the sex assigned at birth.

Jared Cutler, a Beavercreek resident, said the resolution targets a historically marginalized group of people and makes students feel unwelcome at school.

“I think it’s appalling that the State Board of Education would propose a resolution that would make students feel that way, that adds to the psychological distress of a group that already experiences too much rejection and too much psychological distress,” said Cutler, who is one of the administrators of a Facebook group called Citizens for a Better Beavercreek.

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