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Bill to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion training at Ohio colleges advances

The legislation would also require mandatory trustee training and syllabus transparency, allowing students, families and taxpayers to know course content, reading materials and individual professors.

Published: December 6, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Despite objections from teacher organizations, the NAACP, the ACLU, physicians and social workers, an Ohio House committee passed a bill to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion training at Ohio colleges and universities.

Senate Bill 83, which has passed the Senate and heads to a full House vote after an 8-7 vote Wednesday in the House Workforce and Higher Education Committee, also bans what it calls “controversial beliefs or policies,” including issues like climate change, electoral politics, foreign policy, immigration policy, marriage or abortion.”

“Senate Bill 83’s cluttered, contradictory, and unclear language invites confusion, uneven application, and the chilling of expression and speech," chief lobbyist Gary Daniels of the American Civil Liberties Union told the committee. "Again, some policy matters invite and require oversight precision from state legislatures. This is not one of them.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, says the legislation is simply about students and the quality of education received at the state’s 14 public universities and 23 community colleges.

“SB83 is a much-needed course correction for our institutions of higher learning,” Cirino told the committee. "This course correction is needed now so that we do not end up with institutions that are more focused on social engineering rather than true intellectual diversity of thought and the teaching of useful analytical skills."

The legislation would also require mandatory trustee training and syllabus transparency, allowing students, families and taxpayers to know course content, reading materials and individual professors.

The state’s higher education institutions would also be required to develop a mission statement that clearly states a commitment to diversity of thought and the First Amendment and provide specific cost breakdowns for tuition.

Students would have to complete an American history/citizenship course to earn a degree.

“I do not wish to see any student or employee at our state institutions face any kind of discrimination or exclusion,” Cirino said. “We have laws to protect against these practices. I believe from the bottom of my heart that education is the surest ticket out of poverty and it is our collective job to make it available to anyone who wants it. Let us just make sure that for all of this effort and dollars, we are delivering the right kind of education.”

The Ohio Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said the bill is a step in the wrong direction for Ohioans and would leave students feeling unsafe.

“Do we want the state of Ohio to be a place where diversity is celebrated, or one which places unnecessary restrictions on our institutions of higher education under the guise of racial neutrality?” said Tom Roberts, president of the Ohio Chapter of the NAACP. “This bill undercuts proactive efforts to ensure that students feel safe, supported and in an environment that promotes civic understanding and racial equality.”