COLUMBUS, Ohio – House Bill 240 (HB240), known as the Parents Right to Know Act, received its first hearing in the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee Wednesday. The hearing was called soon after ramped up pressure came from Rep Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Twp) and the civic group Ohio Value Voters (OVV), which called attention to the law and committee Chairwoman Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), who, according to Stoltzfus and OVV, was suppressing the bill.
However, Stoltzfus told The Star in an interview that Manning intentionally caused a three-and-a-half-hour delay in the hearing start time. “She is angry at me, and other folks, for putting pressure on her to hear conservative bills and that is the way she is taking it out on me,” said Stoltzfus.
He continued, “The Committee hearing started at 3:30 and we were first on the agenda and I was waiting there at 3:30 to speak. She [Manning] called up another bill. Then, her aide sent an email out while she was sitting in committee saying ‘oh, it’s 3:36 – sorry, but we moved you to the end of the agenda.’
According to Stoltzfus, six Ohio citizens were there in support of the Parents Right to Know Act and despite arriving at 3:30 p.m., they didn’t get to hear testimony until 7:00 p.m. The hearing can be viewed below and begins near the 3h 28m mark.
The Paris Township lawmaker said a second hearing is the next step in the legislative process for HB240 but also noted that language from the bill was added, verbatim, to the Senate version of the budget bill that has already passed the upper chamber and is now under consideration in the House. He said the bill and Wednesday testimony was well received, even by Democrats who “wanted to kind of pick it apart a little bit about lawsuits in schools. But, at the end of the day, nobody can argue that showing this stuff to minors is appropriate.”
As previously reported by The Star, the Parents Right to Know Act was drafted after OVV received sexually explicit material from a whistleblower who worked inside an Ohio school that alleged information on, and links to, content about BDSM, transgenderism, how to make sex toys at home, among other things, was being distributed to Ohio students as young as 11-years-old.
If the language stays in the budget – and is not removed by House Speaker Cupp (R-Lima) or anyone in the House Finance Committee – then the bill would become law and there would be no need for a second hearing. The only other exception would be a DeWine line-item veto once he receives the budget.
The Star contacted Speaker Cupp and Rep Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), who is Chairman of the House Finance Committee, to ask if each would work to protect the language in the budget bill. Neither office provided comment before press time.
Stoltzfus concluded, “We have been in contact with the Speaker and the Chairman of the Finance Committee that this has to stay – that it’s very important. I think it’s in the Speaker’s best interest that it stays. It’s in everybody’s best interest that it just stays in the budget.”
One of the challenges with inserting the language into the budget bill is that it could be removed – anonymously – by a lawmaker or Speaker, keeping Ohioans in the dark about who didn’t support the law change.
According to OVV and records received by The Star, information contained in below 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 – some as early as September 2020.
Wednesday’s hearing and language added to the Senate budget bill, however, are the first efforts taken since OVV, Stoltzfus and HB240 sponsor Rep Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Geneva-on-the-Lake) began working to remove sexually graphic curricula, like the information disclosed in the above video, from Ohio classrooms.
Language in 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.
OVV recently unveiled the Protect Ohio Children website that allows whistleblowers to report Comprehensive Sexual Education, as well as Critical Race Theory and Social Emotional Learning, being taught to students in Ohio.
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