YSUnity opposes HB 616

YSUnity holds a discussion about the Ohio House Bill 616, which bans both instruction and materials about sexual orientation and gender identity for students in elementary grades. Photo by Christopher Gillett and Samantha Smith / The Jambar

By Samantha Smith and Christopher Gillett

Youngstown State University’s YSUnity club hosted a meeting Tuesday, April 12 to discuss the reformation of the club and the recently proposed Ohio House Bill 616.

Once the panel went through the organization’s information, discussion started on the bill being introduced to the Ohio legislature. Rose McClurkin, vice president of YSUnity and sophomore political science major, explained what the bill is.

“It’s kind of an expansion of a bill that already existed. There was a critical race theory bill that got introduced, and it was to ban that curriculum,” she said. “This bill expands the intersectionality part of it … to not discussing gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The bill is not only for public schools in Ohio, but any non-academic Ohio school that receives government funding. McClurkin said if a school violates the measures in the bill, it will lose funding, and teachers who violate the bill can have their teaching license revoked.

Jasper Sharpless, secretary of YSUnity and junior anthropology major, expressed concern for students if the state legislature passes the bill. Sharpless said secondary students should have sexual education and knowledge of LGBTQ student issues. If they do not, college can present a dangerous environment for those students because they do not know how to protect themselves, according to Sharpless. 

McClurkin shared advice on how students can express their thoughts on the bill.

“Calling people is always a good idea. Call your personal representatives,” she said. “We also have a petition that Michael [Jurus] made for us and you can sign that, and I am pretty sure we are going to present that to the House.”  

When asked about the future of LGBTQ rights in the United States, Nathaniel Hunter, treasurer for YSUnity and junior nursing major, explained how he is optimistic for the future.

“Personally, I’m a very optimistic person. I believe deep down every person’s good, but something made them not good,” he said.

For more information on YSUnity, its Instagram and Twitter are ysunity_sogie and its Facebook is YSUnity. To contact the organization, its email is [email protected]

**Editor’s Note: Michael Jurus is employed by The Jambar as a general reporter. He is not a participant in the editorial process.