Ohio Higher-Ed Teachers Might Have To Teach “Both Sides” of Climate Change Under New Bill

Other topics included in Senate Bill 83 are abortion, immigration, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Credit: Alessandro Biascioli / iStock via Getty Images
Credit: Alessandro Biascioli / iStock via Getty Images

A new bill in Ohio would ban higher education professionals from teaching about several “controversial” topics, unless they provide students with “both sides” of the argument.

Topics included in Senate Bill 83, also known as the Higher Education Enhancement Act, are climate change, abortion, immigration, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Under the bill, public colleges and universities in Ohio would need to “encourage and allow students to reach their own conclusions” and “not seek to inculcate any social, political, or religious point of view.”

Additionally, these higher education institutions would no longer be able to require diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and would instead have to promote “intellectual diversity” through “divergent and opposing perspectives on an extensive range of public policy issues.”

The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican state Senator Jerry Cirino, took credit for listing climate change as a controversial belief, per the Ohio Capital Journal. “What I think is controversial is different views that exist out there about the extent of the climate change and the solutions to try to alter climate change,” Cirino said, adding that “both sides of the equation need to be understood.”

To even categorize climate change as controversial is “going to have a chilling effect,” said Glenn Branch, deputy director for the National Center for Science Education.

“This is just a blatant power grab for education. Period,” said Ohio state Senator Catherine Ingram. “[The bill] talks about freedom of speech, but everything in here is against certain speech.”