Ohio Lawmaker and Civic Group Accuse Rep Gayle Manning of Blocking ‘Parents Right to Know Act’

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – A bill aimed at forcing schools to disclose sexually graphic curricula to parents is being blocked by Representative Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) in her capacity as Primary and Secondary Education Committee Chair, according to the sponsor of the legislation and Ohio Value Voters (OVV), a civic organization.

Known as the Parents Right to Know (House Bill 240), the proposal seeks to enforce school compliance with venereal disease and teen pregnancy prevention instruction requirements and mandates schools get parental permission before students receive teaching that goes outside the letter of the law.

Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Twp), a primary sponsor of the bill, said, “It’s just sad that we have the majority in the House and the Senate and a Governor that’s a so-called Republican and we cannot pass this common-sense legislation.”

The measure was drafted after an Ohio school district employee turned over to OVV pornographic materials the whistleblower claimed were being distributed to students as young as 11-years-old under the guise of venereal disease and teen pregnancy prevention.

Parents Right to Know was referred by the House Rules and Reference Committee to the Primary and Secondary Education Committee April 14 but no hearings have been held.

Representative Manning, a retired teacher of 37 years, received an inquiry from The Ohio Star to determine if she plans to schedule hearings, transfer the bill to a subcommittee or to release to a separate committee – along with her reason and rationale for doing any or none of the aforementioned.  Manning did not respond.

“Manning has the right and obligation to vote no on these bills if she does not support them. She does not have the right to hold these bills hostage and prohibit a vote on these critical issues,” said John Stover, President of OVV. The group aims to educate and influence voters and elected officials in Ohio to preserve “faith, life, family and religious freedom,” according to its website.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), who names committees, committee members and chooses who will chair each, does have authority to reassign the bills to another committee or circumvent a chairperson to bring the bills to the floor.  However, Stoltzfus said it wouldn’t be prudent for the Speaker to force the bill out of committee but says Cupp to reassign the bill.

Parents Right to Know

When the whistleblower turned over materials last year – along with proof that lessons were being taught from the material to Ohio students (according to OVV)- it was discovered the materials promoted webpages that contained and linked to resources on BDSM, sexting, transgender porn, homemade sex toys and more.

Stover and his wife Diane immediately began working with Ohio lawmakers on legislation and oversight.  Parents Right to Know is a culmination of those efforts, according to the Stovers.

A video highlighting the materials can be viewed below. Warning: the video contains graphic, sexual and mature content. Viewer discretion is advised.

HB240 would:

  • require schools and school districts to follow existing Ohio law in delivering instruction to students;
  • mandate schools to get parental and guardian authorization before students receive teaching outside instruction requirements established by the law;
  • require the state board to annually audit every district and school curricula on venereal disease and teen pregnancy prevention – directing them to prominently post audit results on the state board site and school sites;
  • greenlight parents and guardians to bring civil action against boards and schools to force compliance with the law.

According to OVV and records received by The Star, information contained in the above video, and the matter of schools introducing it as early as middle school, was sent last year to Governor DeWine, Attorney General Yost (R), Senate President Matt Huffman (R-District 12), Speaker Cupp and members of the Ohio department of Education – State Board.

Why the bill has yet to gain traction is unclear.

Manning’s top contributors in her bid for reelection in 2020 were the Republican State and Central Executive Committee ($236,854) and the Ohio Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education ($26,292).  Over her political career, Manning’s top donors are the Republican party and labor.

“Education starts in the home,” Cheryl McGuire, Vice President of the State Board of Education, told The Star. “We’ve seen a breakdown in the family since the ‘60s and ’70s. We need families involved and parents do have a right to know.”

When asked how pornographic material made its way into the classroom and how pervasive the material, and instruction like it, is throughout the state McGuire said that there was no information on pervasiveness and that Ohio is a “local control state.”

Consequently, she said, it is important for parents to be involved because “decisions are made by local leaders, the local boards, superintendents and teachers.”

The material, she said, probably came from a partnership – for example, “likely through the ADAMH” (Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board).

McGuire said she was deeply disturbed by what OVV revealed and the bill combats.  She said that neurological science has uncovered that frontal lobe development, the area of the brain that helps people plan actions and anticipate consequences, extends into the mid-twenties.  Negative events and exposure to inappropriate material at a young age can affect behavior and cognition forever.  Thus, McGuire said she supports the bill that grants “more parent oversight.”

Ohio Governor DeWine was contacted by The Star – asked whether he has acted to remove the materials from schools and if he supports the legislation. The Republican governor’s office responded, “we do not have a comment on this inquiry.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost was contacted to determine if action has been taken, or will be taken, on the material and whether he is a proponent of the Parents Right to Know Act. A Yost spokesperson responded that he couldn’t locate “anyone familiar with the video” and asked for specifics on who sent the information and when. With respect to the bill, the spokesperson stated, “we do not have any comment on the proposed legislation.” The video was sent to both Yost and his Legislative Director in September 2020, per records The Star received.

Stoltzfus and Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Geneva-on-the-Lake) are primary sponsors of Parents Right to Know. The bill has 16 cosponsors, four lawmakers who signed on to the legislation are members of the Primary and Secondary Education Committee.

State Representative Stoltzfus told The Star Saturday that he believes inquiries made for this report may have contributed to sudden action on HB240 – the Parents Right to Know Act is scheduled for a hearing next week. However, Stoltzfus said, “They tell me I’m going to have a hearing or two, what happens after that? My opinion is that there needs to be a full court press all the way through.”

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Jack Windsor is Statehouse Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an independent investigative reporter. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

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