April 26, 2022

Anne Comarda: Ohio teachers are heroes.

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Anne Comarda, writing guest commentary for the Columbus Dispatch, says Ohio’s version of a Don’t Say Gay bill is bad news.

As the Republicans in the Ohio legislature compete with Florida and Texas to be the most extremist state in the Union, children suffer.

The Ohio GOP’s latest attack on free speech, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, criminalizes speech in schools about sexual orientation and gender identity which will have the effect of further marginalizing children and teachers who identify as LGBTQ or whose family members do.

This, along with the equally ambiguous bill which attacks speech about race and systemic inequality, undermines the teaching profession because no teacher will want to be sued over acknowledging a child’s two moms or teaching that the enslavement of Black people by white people was anything less than an abomination.

If the loud minority of politicians and parents feel so strongly that they understand how and what should be taught in schools, then I urge them to volunteer their time for a day in an urban public school classroom.

You would see for yourself what an incredibly challenging job teachers have and the brilliance, creativity, and professionalism with which they do it.

As a parent of Columbus public school children who also volunteers in the schools, I can tell you that you will see K-12 classrooms packed to the gills with too many children, many of whom are dealing with significant mental health issues from the trauma of the past 2 years or chronic stress from living in poverty.

In order to teach reading and math, teachers must first triage the most pressing issues of public safety and wear the hats of therapist, social worker, and nurse.

When teachers finally get home long after the 3:30 bell rings, they get to read in the newspaper that the zealots in the Statehouse are drumming up votes among their base with accusations that teachers are “grooming” students into being victims of pedophilia by acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ  people in our society, as well as making white children “feel bad” about their race.

Do we wonder why there is a shortage of teachers in America?

Read the full op-ed here.

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