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Politics

Council condemns bill that would ban 'divisive concepts' in Ohio schools

a blue, pink and white striped flag flies on the foreign office building in London
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
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The Transgender Pride Flag flies on the Foreign Office building in London on Transgender Day of Remembrance there, November 20, 2018. Cincinnati will raise a similar flag for the first time on March 31.

An Ohio bill that would ban schools from teaching divisive concepts has opposition from Cincinnati officials. Council passed a resolution Wednesday denouncing the legislation.

House Bill 327 is similar to many bills across the country attempting to prohibit concepts like critical race theory. Reggie Harris says it's also an attack on queer communities.

"So on the human level, I think that we have a moral obligation to say, that is bad and we reject that," Harris said. "On a very practical level, we are experiencing a talent and a brain drain in our state and in our city; folks, regardless of their LGBTQI identity, don't want to come live and work in states and cities that are discriminatory in this way."

The bill would apply to K-12 school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and state agencies. Council's resolution says the bill would block important conversations and debates and "furthers discrimination and targets Black, brown and LGBTQIA+ individuals."

College Hill resident Elliott Kesse was one of a few Cincinnatians speaking in favor of the resolution.

"Hello, my name is Elliot. My pronouns are they/them, and I am not a divisive concept; I'm a person, a friend, a cousin, a sibling and someone's child," Kesse said. "There are no laws that can be passed to make trans people disappear. We exist. But these bills are harmful and deadly and should be defeated."

HB 327 is in a State House Committee; it has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Council also approved a plan to raise a transgender pride flag at City Hall for the first time on Transgender Day of Visibility this March 31.