Ohio school board debates sexual orientation rule

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A proposal to protect Ohio school teachers from being fired on the basis of sexual orientation is dividing the state school board.

The current policy does not allow “discrimination on the basis of age, color, ancestry, national origin, race, gender, religion, disability, or veteran status.” 

The change would add sexual orientation, which currently is not protected by state law.

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Backers of the proposed policy change told the Ohio Board of Education on Tuesday that the move would encourage the hiring and retention of the brightest teachers and set an example of inclusion for gay, lesbian and transgendered youth.

Board member C. Todd Jones questioned whether adding such nondiscrimination language would impose a policy on parochial and Christian schools that violates the tenets of their faith.

Equality Ohio executive director Elyzabeth Holford says Republican Gov. John Kasich already signed an executive order applied to state workers that opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation. She said this would be an extension of that sentiment.

The proposal is expected to come up again next week at a state school board meeting.

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