Does Ohio’s Divisive Concepts Bill Prevent Libraries & Police Departments from Discussing Race?

Analyzing Ohio's HB 327.
Photo: State Library of Ohio
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The Columbus Dispatch claims that Ohio House Bill 327 will prevent public libraries from moderating community conversations about race and police departments from training about unconscious bias. 

 In February 2021, the Columbus Metropolitan Library began a program Speak Up/Speak Out, in which the library moderates a panel discussion by community leaders about a book, article, movie, or music selection from the Library’s collection. The Library’s chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, Anthony Wilson, claims that HB 327 “could impact what materials we carry and for sure what programs we do.”

In Dayton, the police department has been working on 142 recommendations for police force improvement in community relations, according to Mayor Jeff Mims. These recommendations include training on “unconscious biases that officers may carry.” He worries that HB 327 will prevent these reforms from continuing.

 The Chalkboard Review staff have reviewed HB 327—we found these claims: 

 The language in the bill does not prohibit moderation of conversation. Rather, it prohibits teaching, instruction, and training on divisive concepts. Moderating a public forum requires that the moderator be a neutral party in the discussion, ensuring that all sides are given equal opportunity for discussion. 

As for the unconscious bias concerns, the language in the bill as it now stands does not prohibit such training. The language of the bill states that claiming an individual is inherently unconsciously biased because of their “nationality, color, ethnicity, race, or sex” is prohibited. If training about unconscious bias is conducted free of ideas that unconscious bias is inherent based on “nationality, color, ethnicity, race, or sex”, the training would be allowed under the bill. 

This bill is still pending in the Ohio legislature.

 

Chalkboard Review Staff
The Chalkboard Review Staff often collaborate on Read the Bill and report articles to ensure multiple perspectives and founded data points are presented.