Sponsors say the focus of Ohio’s Parental Rights Act is on mental health

“There’s a gap, there’s a big gap in social and emotional learning, and we have to fix it. We’ve got kids left and right who are depressed,” said the chair of the Behavioral Health and Recovery Support Committee at Ohio House.

The bill would also require schools to notify parents prior to initiating instructions about “material that includes sexually explicit content and identify specific educational materials and sexually explicit topics.” If a parent objects, alternative educational materials must be provided.

Carothers said this bill does not ban any age-appropriate content but makes sure parents are aware of the material being taught. Explicit sexual content is defined by the code as “any description, photograph, drawing, film, digital image, or similar visual representation that depicts sexual behaviour.”

“It’s not about constraints but about priorities,” she said. Our priority is to provide students with the knowledge to be successful. This means defining a curriculum based on reading, writing, arithmetic and mental health education.”

Ohio students are lagging behind in math and English language arts than they were before the pandemic, but student grades are better than they were in 2020.

Groups of students who were already lagging behind their peers — black and Latino students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, English language learners — have larger achievement gaps now than they did before the pandemic.

The concern for some is that the bill will follow other Republican-backed legislation that has been proposed or enacted across the country as lawmakers have said they want parents to be more mindful in their children’s education. Many of those bills what Pen.org They’re called “educational gag orders” — and they place severe limits on what can and can’t be taught in public schools — which have increased 250% this year through 2021.

Carothers said House Act 722 would not stop any age-appropriate instructions and argued that it opens up transparency.

“We’re seeing a shift away from parental involvement across the country, and this legislation simply ensures parents have the right to be involved and to be informed of what’s going on (in terms of their children’s education),” she said. “There will be fathers who are never there, but at least they have the right.”

Carothers said Ohio’s proposed bill would remove more restrictive aspects of the so-called “parental rights law” in other states. The bill would not ban or order the removal of any books, as they did in Missouri. Carothers said it would oppose any efforts to ban the books.

The concern about the proposed Ohio bill “is how vague the term ‘explicit sexual content’ is,” said Catherine Boe, a spokeswoman for Equity Ohio. Ohio Capital Journal.

Poe’s concern is that there are no exceptions to the health, biology or anatomy chapters written in the bill, but she told the Columbus-based news outlet that she believes his labeling of the parental rights bill is just for show.

“We know who’s going to be called here – they’re gay, gay, bisexual and transgender,” she said.

Carothers disputed this, adding that it would not negatively impact health, biology or anatomy classes, nor would it have an impact on the LGBTQ community.

“Let the kids be kids. Let them explore and do whatever they want. They don’t have to be burdened with all our problems yet,” she said. “I see our literacy numbers go down. We all focus too much on the wrong areas. For now, we need to get those results back into the public domains.”

The bill has not yet been referred to a committee, and the General Assembly does not return until after the general election in November.

Writer Elaine McClory contributed to this story.

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